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Rev. James Leach 












Vol. II. 


St. ©unstan's p?ouse 

Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, E. C 


1 53 


University Press . 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A. 



Events on the Continent, 1798-1800. 

Disorders of France under the Directory. — Disastrous 

War of the Second Coalition. — Establishment of the 
Consulate. — Bonaparte Overthrows Austria and Frames 
against Great Britain the Armed Neutrality of 1800. — 
Peace of Luneville with Austria. 


Hostilities of Naples against the French 1 

Disastrous defeat of the Neapolitans 2 

The French enter Naples 2 

Piedmont annexed to France 2 

Beginning of the war of the Second Coalition 3 

Reverses of the French in Germany and Italy 3 

Massdna falls back in Switzerland 4 

Further French disasters in Italy 5 

The French evacuate southern Italy 6 

Battle of the Trebia won by Suwarrow 6 

Loss of northern Italy by the French 7 

The French defeated at the battle of Novi by Suwarrow ... 8 

Change in the plans of the Coalition 8 

Massena defeats the allies at the battle of Zurich ..... 9 

Disastrous march of Suwarrow into Switzerland 9 

Failure of the Anglo- Russian expedition against Holland . . 10 

Loss of Bonaparte's conquests in Italy and of the Ionian Islands 10 

Internal disorders of Fiance 11 

Bonaparte's return, and the revolution of Brumaire 18 . . . 15 

Bonaparte's measures to restore order 15 

His advances toward Great Britain and Austria to obtain peace 16 



Reasons of the two governments for refusing ...... 17 

Prosperity of Great Britain 17 

Russia abandons the coalition 19 

Forces of France and Austria in 1800 19 

Bonaparte's plan of campaign 20 

Opening of the campaign in Italy 21 

Massena shut up in Genoa 21 

Moreau's advance into Germany 21 

Bonaparte crosses the Saint Bernard 22 

Battle of Marengo, and armistice following it 23 

Armistice in Germany 21 

Diplomatic negotiations 25 

Bonaparte's colonial and maritime anxieties 25 

The Czar Paul I.'s hostility to Great Britain . 26 

Dispute between England and Denmark concerning neutral rights 26 

Effect of this upon Bonaparte's plans 27 

Policy of Russia and Prussia 28 

Bonaparte undertakes to form a coalition against Great Britain 29 

Factors in the question 29 

Vacillations of Prussia 31 

Bonaparte's advances to Russia 32 

Hostile action of Paul I. toward Great Britain 33 

His pretensions to Malta 33 

Negotiations for a maritime truce 34 

Their failure 35 

Action of Prussia against Great Britain 35 

Armed Neutrality of 1800 36 

Its claims 37 

Renewal of hostilities between Austria and France .... 38 

Defeat of Austria at the battle of Hohenlinden ...... 38 

Peace of Luneville 39 

Terms of the treaty 40 



Events of 1801. 

British Expedition to the Baltic. — Battle of Copenhagen. 

— Bonaparte's futile Attempts to contest Control of 

the Sea. — His Continental Policy. — Preliminaries of 
Peace with Great Britain, October, 1801. — Influence 
of Sea Power, so far, on the Course of the Revolution. 


Isolation of Great Britain in Europe, in 1801 41 

Expedition to the Baltic planned 41 

Instructions to Sir Hyde Parker, commander-in-chief .... 42 

Nelson second in command 42 

The fleet sails 42 

Nelson's plan of operations 43 

The military situation, strategic and tactical 44 

Characteristics of Nelson's military genius ....... 45 

Denmark's relation to the league of the northern States ... 46 

Half measures of Sir Hyde Parker 47 

Nelson advances against Copenhagen 47 

Battle of Copenhagen 48 

Results of the battle 51 

Nelson's negotiations with the Danish government 51 

Armistice concluded with Denmark . 51 

Assassination of the Czar Paul 1 51 

Merits of Nelson's conduct in the Baltic 52 

British embargo upon merchant ships of the Baltic powers . . 53 

Resulting retaliatory action of Prussia 54 

Inherent weakness of the Northern League 55 

Conciliatory action of the new Czar 55 

Sir Hyde Parker relieved from command 56 

Nelson takes the British fleet to Revel 56 

His action rebuked by the Czar 57 

Convention between Great Britain and Russia 57 

Dissolution of the Armed Neutrality 57 

Nature of the claims maintained by it 58 

Bonaparte's proceedings in the Italian and Spanish peninsulas . 59 
Failure of his maritime projects for the relief of Malta and 

Egypt 60 

His attempt to collect a naval force in Cadiz 63 

Naval battle of Algesiras, and its consequences 64 



Strategic significance of these events 65 

Cession of Louisiana by Spain to France ........ 67 

Bonaparte's intended occupation of Portugal frustrated ... 67 

His diplomatic dilemma in the summer of 1801 68 

Coolness towards him of Russia and Prussia 69 

Triumphant influence of the British Sea Power 69 

Preliminaries of Peace between Great Britain and France . . 70 

Terms of the preliminaries signed at London, October, 1801 . 71 

Cessation of hostilities 72 

Criticism of the terms by the British Opposition 72 

Influence of Sea Power upon the course of the Revolution . . 74 

Pitt's opinions 75 


Outline of Events from the Signature of the Prelimina- 
ries to the Rupture of the Peace of Amiens. 

Unstable character of the settlement of 1801 76 

Treaties with Turkey and Portugal contracted secretly by France 77 
Impression produced in Great Britain by these and by the ces- 
sion of Louisiana 78 

Expedition sent to Haiti by Bonaparte 78 

Delays in negotiating the definitive treaty 79 

Bonaparte accepts the presidency of the Cisalpine Republic . . 80 

Effect produced in Great Britain by this step 80 

Signature of the Peace of Amiens, March 25, 1802 81 

Provisions concerning Malta 81 

Illusive effects caused by Bonaparte's system of secret treaties . 82 

Annihilation of the Sea Power of France 83 

Bonaparte proclaimed First Consul for life 83 

Action of Bonaparte in the German indemnities 84 

Injury to Austria and annoyance of Great Britain 85 

Bonaparte's reclamations against the British press 85 

Piedmont and Elba formally incorporated with France ... 85 

The Valais wrested from Switzerland for military reasons . . 86 

Bonaparte's armed intervention in Switzerland, 1802 .... 87 

Emotion of Europe and remonstrance of Great Britain ... 88 
The British ministry countermands restitution of captured 

colonies 89 

Bonaparte's wrath at the British remonstrance 89 

Strained relations between the two States ........ 90 



Bonaparte demands the evacuation of Egypt and Malta ... 91 

Attitude of the British ministry concerning Malta 91 

Causes of the delay in evacuating it 92 

Importance of Malta 92 

Broad ground now taken by the ministry 93 

Publication of Sebastiani's report, January ; 1803 93 

Its effect in Great Britain 94 

Disasters of the French in Haiti 94 

Bonaparte's preponderant interest in Malta and the East ... 95 

High tone now assumed by the British ministry 96* 

Additional provocation given by Bonaparte 96 

Ominous proceedings of the ministry 97 

The British ultimatum 98 

Great Britain declares war, May 16, 1803 98 

Universal character of the strife thus renewed 98 

Unanimity of feeling in Great Britain 99 

Pitt's forecast of the nature of the struggle 100 


The Trafalgar Campaign to the Spanish Declaration of 
War. May, 1803— December, 1804. 

Preparations for the Invasion of England. — The Great 
Flotilla. — Napoleon's Military and Naval Combinations, 
and British Naval Strategy. — Essential Unity of Napo- 
leon's Purpose. — Causes of Spanish War. 

Preparations of the two States 101 

Cession of Louisiana to the United States 104 

Effect of the British Sea Power upon this measure .... 105 
Resources of Great Britain and France as affected by their social 

systems 105 

Offensive and defensive gain to Great Britain by forcing the war 106 

Inconvenience to Bonaparte from the premature outbreak . . 107 

Exhaustion of France under the pressure of Sea Power . . . 108 

Bonaparte's resolution to invade Great Britain 109 

Seizure by him of Hanover and of the Heel of Italy . . . . 109 

Object of these measures 110 

Offence and injury to Prussia by occupation of Hanover . . . 110 

French troops quartered on Holland, Hanover, and Naples . . Ill 



Bonaparte's plans for the invasion of England Ill 

His naval combinations to that end 112 

Building of the great flotilla 113 

Its points of concentration described 114 

Difficulties of the undertaking 115 

Certainty of Napoleon's purpose . . 116 

Interesting character of this historical crisis 117 

Strategic effect of the British blockading squadrons . . . . 118 

Strategic dispositions in the British Channel 119 

Security felt by British naval officers 120 

St. Vincent's opposition to small gun-vessels 121 

The Sea Fencibles 121 

Deterioration of naval material under St. Vincent's administra- 
tion 122 

Effects upon the Channel and Mediterranean ships 123 

Embarrassment caused to Nelson 124 

Bonaparte's naval combination hinges upon Nelson's perplexities 124 

Details of his first plan 125 

Merits of St. Vincent's general strategic dispositions .... 126 

Nelson's uncertainties as to the French purposes 127 

His certainty as to his own course 127 

Embarrassment caused by the condition of his ships .... 128 

Delays encountered by Napoleon 129 

Death of the commander of the Toulon fleet 130 

Villeneuve appointed to succeed him 130 

Change of detail in Napoleon's naval combination 131 

Significance of this new combination 132 

War begins between Great Britain and Spain 133 

Train of causes which led to this outbreak 133 

Detention of the Spanish treasure-ships 137 



The Trafalgar Campaign — Concluded. 
January — October, 1805. 

Successive Modifications of Napoleon's Plan. — Narrative 
of Naval Movements. — Final Failure of Napoleon's 
Naval Combinations. — War with Austria, and Battle 
of austerlitz. — battle of trafalgar. — vltal change 

imposed upon Napoleon's Policy by the Result of the 
Naval Campaign. 


Napoleon has direction of both Spanish and French fleets . . 140 

His lack of familiarity with maritime difficulties ..... 141 

Instructions to the Rochefort and Toulon admirals 142 

The Rochefort squadron puts to sea 142 

Delay, and final departure, of the Toulon fleet 143 

Nelson's movements 143 

He takes his fleet to Alexandria 144 

The Toulon ships being crippled in a gale, Villeneuve returns to 

Toulon 144 

Napoleon's plans again modified by this delay 146* 

Stations of the British and Allied fleets in March, 1805 . . . 147 

Napoleon's new instructions to his admirals 149 

Return of Nelson to Toulon, and his subsequent movements . 150 

Second Sailing of Villeneuve 151 

Joined by a Spanish division at Cadiz, and reaches Martinique . 151 

Nelson's uncertainties and head winds 152 

He reaches Gibraltar, and follows Villeneuve to West Indies . 152 

Napoleon goes to Italy 153 

His naval measures and surmises 154 

Nelson's sound strategy and sagacity 156 

Miscalculations of Napoleon 157 

The measures of the British Admiralty 159 

Nelson in the West Indies 161 

Divergent directions taken by the hostile fleets 161 

Villeneuve returns to Europe 162 

Nelson penetrates his intention and sails in pursuit 163 

Napoleon sends to Ferrol instructions for Villeneuve .... 164 

Napoleon's efforts to distract the British navy 165 

The British resist the diversions raised for them 166 

Villeneuve sighted at sea by a dispatch ship from Nelson ... 167 



The news brought to London 168 

Energetic and skilful measures of the Admiralty 168 

Villeneuve intercepted by Calder off Cape Finisterre . . . . 169 

Nelson reaches Gibraltar 169 

Napoleon misled by the rapidity of the British action .... 170 

Napoleon goes to Boulogne to await Villeneuve 171 

The engagement between Calder and Villeneuve 171 

Subsequent mistakes of the British admiral 172 

Villeneuve puts into Vigo, and reaches Coruna 173 

Calder joins Cornwallis off Brest 174 

Nelson also joins Cornwallis from Gibraltar 174 

Strategic advantage now in the hands of the British .... 175 

Cornwallis divides his fleet and destroys his advantage . . . 176 

Imminent hostilities on the Continent 176 

The Third Coalition formed 177 

Urgent orders from Napoleon to Villeneuve 178 

Napoleon's decision as to his own movements 179 

Villeneuve sails from Coruna for Brest 179 

He abandons his purpose and enters Cadiz 180 

The allied fleets blockaded in Cadiz by Coilingwood . . . . 181 

Napoleon's campaign of 1805 in Germany 181 

Battle of Austerlitz and peace of Presburg 182 

Fate of the great flotilla 182 

Discussion of the chances of Napoleon's project of invasion . . 182 

Necessity of making the attempt 184 

Napoleon's orders to Villeneuve in Cadiz 185 

Nelson takes command off Cadiz 186 

The combined fleets put to sea 187 

Nelson's tactics at Trafalgar discussed 188 

Battle of Trafalgar 190 

Death of Nelson 192 

Nautical disasters succeeding the battle 194 

Immediate results of the battle 195 

Subsequent fate of the French ships in Cadiz 195 

Momentous consequences flowing from the battle of Trafalgar . 196 

Commerce-destroying henceforth the sole resource of Napoleon . 197 



The Warfare against Commerce during the French Revo- 
lution and Empire, to the Berlin Decree. 1793-1806. 


Characteristics of the Warfare against Commerce 199 

Measures of France and of Great Britain 200 

Conduct of Napoleon and of the ministry contrasted .... 201 

Identity of the methods of the Republic and of the Emperor . 202 

Primary measures of the belligerents 203 

Twofold system of Great Britain for the protection of trade . 204 

Seamen a part of the military strength of a nation .... 205 

The British Convoy Act 205 

Results to France of her dependence upon commerce-destroying 206 

Activity of French cruisers 207 

Amount and distribution of British trade ........ 207 

Character of French Channel privateers 208 

Indifferent efficiency of many British cruisers ...... 210 

French privateering in the Atlantic 210 

French privateering in the West Indies 211 

Its piratical character, arising from remoteness from Europe . 213 

Size and force of British East India ships 214 

Consequent character of French privateering in Indian seas . . 215 

Efficient protection of British trade in India 216 

Advantages of the convoy system 217 

Destruction of French commerce by British control of the sea . 218 

Numbers of British captures 219 

The French flag swept from the sea 219 

Annihilation of French commerce except the coasting trade . . 220 

Discussion of the number and value of British vessels captured 221 

Deductions as to the losses of Great Britain 226 

Swelling prosperity of the country 227 

Support to British trade contributed by neutral shipping . . . 228 

Conclusions thence drawn by the French government .... 230 

Effect of the appearance of the United States as neutral carriers 231 

Rapid increase of American merchant shipping 232 

Other neutral carriers 233 

Attitude taken by Russia in 1793 233 

Severe restrictions on neutrals imposed by Great Britain . . . 234 

Rule of 1756 234 

Seizures of American ships in West Indies, 1793 236 

Jay's Mission to Great Britain, 1794 237 



Terms of treaty concluded by him 238 

Indignation of French government 239 

Effect of Jay's treaty upon American relations with Great 

Britain - 240 

Gradual shaping of British commercial war policy 242 

Vacillating action of French government towards neutrals . . 242 

France breaks off relations with the United States 244 

French aggressions upOn neutrals after 1796 244 

Embargo upon American vessels in 1793 246 

Growing exasperation between France and the United States . 246 

Effect of Bonaparte's successes upon French foreign policy . . 247 

Early attempts to stifle British trade 248 

Determination to arrest neutral trade with Great Britain . . . 249 

Law of January 18, 1798 250 

Modification of channels of British trade caused by the war . . 250 

Policy of Pitt in seeking to dominate the Caribbean Sea . . . 252 

Carriage of tropical produce by neutrals 253 

Course of trade in Europe, 1793-1798 254 

Effects of the law of January 18, 1798 254 

Discussion in the Conseil des Anciens, January, 1799 .... 255 

Measures of the United States caused by the law of January 18 258 

Quasi war of 1798 with France 258 

French reverses in 1799 . . . 259 

French successes in 1800 260 

Questions involved in the Armed Neutrality of 1800 .... 260 

Opinions of Pitt and of Fox on the disputed points .... 261 

British conventions with the neutral Baltic States, 1801 . . . 261 

Concession of the Rule of 1756 by Russia 262 

Lessons as to belligerent interest in neutral trade, afforded by 

the war between Great Britain and France, 1793-1801 . . 262 

Further lesson afforded by the short peace of Amiens, 1801-1803 265 

Renewal of war, May, 1803 265 

Bonaparte's measures against British trade, 1803-1805 . . . 265 

Threatened injury to British commerce by neutral carriers . . 266 
Extent of American trade with colonies of enemies to Great 

Britain 267 

Pitt's commercial measures upon resuming power in 1804 . . 267 
Methods of American trade between belligerent countries and 

their colonies 268 

Condemnation of American ships in British prize courts, 1804 . 269 

Death of Pitt. Fox becomes Foreign Minister, 1806 .... 269 

Fox's desire to conciliate the United States 269 

Order in Council of May 16, 1806, substituted for Rule of 1756 269 



Character of the blockade of French coast thus imposed . . . 270 

Intention of the new measure, and its consequences .... 270 

Death of Fox, September, 1806 270 

War between France and Prussia 270 

Napoleon enters Berlin and issues the Berlin Decree . . . . 271 

Object of the decree 271 


The Warfare against Commerce, 1806-1812. 

The Berlin and Milan Decrees of Napoleon, 1806 and 1807. 

— The BRiTisn Orders in Council, 1807-1809. — Analysis of 
the Policy of these Measures of the two Belligerents. 

— Outline of Contemporary Leading Events. 

Object of, and pretext for, the Berlin Decree ....... 272 

Terms of the Decree 272 

Napoleon's winter campaign against Russia, 1806-1807 . . . 273 

The Decree remains inoperative 274 

Battle of Friedland and conventions of Tilsit, June-July, 1807 274 

British retaliatory Order in Council, January, 1807 .... 275 

Its terms and object . 275 

Effect upon American traders 276 

Napoleon's designs upon Denmark and Portugal 276 

Prompt action of the British ministry 277 

Portuguese court withdraws to Brazil 277 

General exclusion of British goods from the Continent . . . 278 

Attitude of Napoleon towards the United States 279 

Nature of the questions confronting Napoleon 280 

Jealousy of Great Britain towards neutral trade 281 

Momentous decision of Napoleon as to the scope of the Berlin 

Decree 281 

Effect of this decision in Great Britain 282 

Embargo Act of the United States, 1807 282 

Succeeded by Non-Intercourse Act, 1809 283 

British Orders in Council of November, 1807 283 

Object of these orders 285 

Summary of their requirements 286 

Their effect upon neutrals 287 

The effect upon the continental nations 288 



Essential features of the opposing British and French policies . 289 

Napoleon's Milan Decree 290 

Duration of the two policies 291 

Napoleon's usurpation in Spain « 291 

The Bayonne and Rambouillet Decrees 292 

The Spanish revolt and French disasters 292 

Battle of Vimiero and French evacuation of Portugal ... 292 

Conventions of Erfurt and war between Russia and Sweden . 293 

The British navy in the Baltic 294 

Letter of Napoleon and the Czar to the King of Great Britain . 294 

Napoleon in the Spanish Peninsula 295 

Diversion made by Sir John Moore 296 

Opening of the year 1809 296 

Austria's preparations for war 297 

State of the commercial warfare in 1809 298 

Evasion of Napoleon's decrees by the Dutch 299 

Consequent measures of Napoleon 300 

Passive resistance of the Continent to the decrees 301 

British seizure of Heligoland 302 

Conditions in the Baltic . 303 

General conditions of British trade, 1806-1809 304 

The License System 307 

Origin of "neutralization" 309 

Its effect upon the action of British cruisers 310 

Workings of the License System 311 

British Order in Council of April, 1809 313 

War between Austria and France 314 

Wellesley's operations in the Peninsula 315 

Battles of Essling and Wagram 316 

Sweden forced to join in the Continental System 316 

Napoleon's urgent attempts to enforce the System ..... 317 

Conditions in the Peninsula 318 

Northern Germany occupied by French troops 319 

Holland united to the Empire 321 

Napoleon's demands upon Prussia and Sweden 322 

Extensive seizure of ships with British goods 323 

Napoleon's Customs Decree of August 5, 1810 ...... 324 

Universal application of this decree 325 

Napoleon's fiscal measures and license system 326 

Decree of October 19, 1810, to burn British manufactured goods 327 

Uneasiness of Russia 329 

Napoleon's annexation of Oldenburg and the Hanse towns . . 330 

Commercial distress in Great Britain . 331 



Embarrassment and suffering in Fiance 333 

Napoleon's financial expedients . . . . 337 

Credit of France and of Great Britain 338 

Internal condition of France and of England 340 

The conscription in France 342 

Exhaustion of the two nations 343 

Difficulties between France and Russia 344 

Admiral Saumarez in the Baltic 346 

Understanding between Sweden, Russia, and Great Britain . . 347 

Affairs in the Spanish Peninsula 348 

Fall of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz 340 

Discontent and misery in France 350 

Russian treaties with Sweden and Turkey 350 

Napoleon invades Russia 351 

Revocation of the British Orders in Council . 351 

The United States declare war against Great Britain .... 351 

Analysis of the British and French measures 351 


Summary. — The Function of Sea Power and the Poltcy of 
Great Britain in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic 

Great Britain's un preparedness for war in 1792 358 

Spirit and aims of the French leaders 359 

Decree of the National Convention, November 19, 1792 ... 361 

Significance of this step 362 

Annexation of Belgium, and opening of the Scheldt .... 362 

Interest of Great Britain in the Netherlands 363 

British preparations for war 363 

Consistency of Pitt's course 364 

Convention's decree of December 15, 1792 367 

Aggressive spii it of the French Revolution 368 

Misconception of its strength by European statesmen .... 370 

Conservative temper of the British nation 371 

Irrepressible conflict between the two forces 372 

Twofold aspect of Sea Power 372 

Origin and character of the British Sea Power 373 

Annihilation of French, Dutch, and Spanish navigation ... 375 

Consequent opportunities for neutral carriers 376 



Restrictions imposed upou these by Great Britain ...... 377 

Rise of prices on the continent of Europe 377 

Great Britain becomes the depot for supplying the Continent . 378 

Direct and indirect effects upon British prosperity 380 

Strength of Great Britain dependent upon Sea Power .... 381 

Use of Sea Power made by the ministry 382 

" Security " the avowed object of the war 383 

The war, therefore, avowedly defensive 384 

British treaty obligations to Holland 384 

Relation of Great Britain to the general struggle 385 

Two resources arising from Sea Power 386 

Great land operations inexpedient for Great Britain .... 386 

Characteristics of the Seven Years' War 387 

Contrasts between the elder and the younger Pitt 387 

Pitt's war policy not simply a military question 391 

General direction given by him to the national effort .... 392 

Justification of his colonial enterprises 393 

Unprecedented naval development and commercial prosperity 

secured by him 394 

Importance of these results 394 

Exhaustion of France caused by Pitt's measures 395 

Bonaparte's opinion as to the influence of Sea Power .... 396 
Ruinous results to France of the measures to destroy British 

commerce 396 

Napoleon forced to these steps by Pitt's policy 397 

Identity of spirit in the Republic and in Napoleon 398 

France forced into the battle-field of Great Britain's choosing . 400 

Strain of the Continental System upon Europe 401 

Revolt from it of Spain and Russia 401 

Effect of these movements 402 

Napoleon submits to divide his forces 402 

General correctness of Pitt's war policy 402 

The criticisms on the campaign of 1793 considered 403 

Peculiar character of the Revolutionary War . 403 

Dependence of statesmen upon military advice 404 

Peculiar merit of Pitt 404 

His death 405 

His policy pursued by his successors 405 

Exhaustion the only check upon a great national movement . . 406 

France revived by Bonaparte in 1796 and 1799 407 

He unites the nation in a renewed forward movement .... 407 

Bonaparte the incarnation of the Revolution 408 

Combination of powers in Napoleon's hands 408 



His career dependent upon the staying power of France . . . 408 

Effect of Great Britain upon French endurance 409 

Function of Great Britain in the Napoleonic wars 411 

Accuracy of Pitt's forecast 411 

Result postponed only by Bonaparte's genius 411 

INDEX 413 

Note. — The references to the " Correspondence de Napoleon" are to 
the quarto edition, in thirty-two volumes, published in Paris between 1858 
aud 1869. 



I. Battle of Copenhagen 44 

II. Map of North Atlantic 117 

III. The Attack at Trafalgar 190 






Events on the Continent, 1798-1800. 

Disorders of France under the Directory. — Disastrous 
War of the Second Coalition. — Establishment of the 
Consulate. — Bonaparte overthrows Austria and frames 
against Great Britain the Armed Neutrality of 1800. — 
Peace of Luneville with Austria. 

WHILE Bonaparte was crossing the Syrian desert and 
chafing over the siege of Acre, the long gathering 
storm of war known as the Second Coalition had broken 
upon France. It had been preceded by a premature out- 
burst of hostility on the part of the Two Sicilies, induced 
by the excitement consequent upon the battle of the Nile 
and fostered by Nelson ; 1 who, however influenced, was 
largely responsible for the action of the court. Despite the 
advice of Austria to wait, a summons was sent to the 
French on the 22d of November, 1798, to evacuate the 
Papal States and Malta. A Neapolitan army of fifty thou- 
sand men marched upon Rome ; and five thousand were 
carried by Nelson's ships to Leghorn with the idea of har- 
assing the confidently-expected retreat of the enemy. 2 

1 See, for instance, his letter to Lady Hamilton, Oct. .3, 1798 (Disp., vol. 
iii. p. 140), which is but one of many similar expressions in his correspondence. 

2 Nels. Disp., vol. iii. p. 177. 
vol. ii. — 1 


Leghorn was at once surrendered ; but in the south the 
campaign ended in utter disaster. The French general 
Championnet, having but fifteen thousand men, evacuated 
Rome, which the Neapolitans consequently entered without 
opposition ; but their field operations met with a series of 
humiliating reverses, due partly to bad generalship and 
partly to inexperience and the lack of mutual confidence 
often found among untried troops. The French re-entered 
Rome seventeen days after the campaign opened ; and the 
king of Naples, who had made a triumphal entry into the 
city, hurried back to his capital, called upon the people to 
rise in defence of their homes against the invaders, and 
then fled with the royal family to Palermo, Nelson giv- 
ing them and the Hamiltons passage on board his flag- 
ship. The peasantry and the populace flew to arms, in 
obedience to the king's proclamation and to their own feel- 
ings of hatred to the republicans. Under the guidance of 
the priests and monks, with hardy but undisciplined fury, 
they in the field harassed the advance of the French, and 
in the capital rose against the upper classes, who were sus- 
pected of secret intelligence with the enemy. Champion- 
net, however, continued to advance ; and on the 23d of 
January, 1799, Naples was stormed by his troops. After 
the occupation, a series of judicious concessions to the pre- 
judices of the people induced their cheerful submission. 
The conquest was followed by the birth to the Batavian, 
Helvetian, Ligurian, Cisalpine, and Roman republics, of a 
little sister, named the Parthenopeian Republic, destined to 
a troubled existence as short as its name was long. 

The Neapolitan declaration of war caused the ruin of the 
Piedmontese monarchy. The Directory, seeing that war 
with Austria was probable, decided to occupy all Piedmont. 
The king abdicated on the 9th of December, 1798 ; retir- 
ing to the island of Sardinia, which was left in his possession. 
Piedmont was soon after annexed to the French Republic. 

On the 20th of February, 1799, having failed to receive 


from the emperor the explanations demanded concerning 
the entrance of the Russian troops into his dominions, the 
Directory ordered its generals to advance. Jourdan was to 
command in Germany, Massena in Switzerland, and Sch^- 
rer in Italy. The armies of the republic, enfeebled by two 
years of peace and by the economies of a government 
always embarrassed for money and deficient in executive 
vigor, were everywhere inferior to those of the enemy ; and 
the plan of campaign, providing for several operations out 
of reach of mutual support, has been regarded by military 
critics as essentially vicious. 

Jourdan crossed the Rhine at Strasburg on the first of 
March, advancing through the Black Forest upon the head 
waters of the Danube. On the 6th Massena crossed the 
river above Lake Constance, and moved through the Alps 
toward the Tyrol, driving the Austrians before him on his 
right and centre ; but on the left he entirely failed to carry 
the important position of Feldkirch, upon which would 
depend the communication between his left and the right 
of Jourdan, if the latter succeeded in pushing on as ordered. 
This, however, he was unable to do. After some severe 
partial encounters there was fought on March 25th, at 
Stokach, near the north-west extremity of Lake Constance, 
a pitched battle in which the French were defeated. Jour- 
dan then saw that he had to do with largely superior forces 
and retreated upon the Rhine, which he recrossed above 
Strasburg on the 6th of April. 

On the 26th of March, the day after the defeat of Jour- 
dan at Stokach, Scherer in Italy attacked the Austrians, 
who were occupying the line of the Adige, rendered famous 
by Bonaparte in his great campaign of 1796. The events of 
that day were upon the whole favorable to the French ; but 
Scherer showed irresolution and consequent delay in im- 
proving such advantages as he had obtained. After a week 
of manoeuvring the two armies met in battle on the 5th of 
April near Magnano, and after a long and bloody struggle 


the French were forced to give way. On the 6th, the day 
that Jourdan retreated across the Rhine, Sche'rer also fell 
back behind the Mincio. Not feeling secure there, although 
the Austrians did not pursue, he threw garrisons into the 
posts on that line, and on the 12th retired behind the Adda ; 
sending word to Macdonald, Championnet's successor at 
Naples, to prepare to evacuate that kingdom and bring to 
northern Italy the thirty thousand men now so sorely 

Jourdan having offered his resignation after the battle 
of Stokach, the armies in Germany and in Switzerland 
were united under the command of Massena ; whose long- 
front, extending from the Engadine, around the sources of 
the Inn, along the Rhine as low as Dusseldorf, was held by 
but one hundred thousand men, of whom two-thirds were 
in Switzerland. In the position which Switzerland occu- 
pies, thrust out to the eastward from the frontiers of France, 
having on the one flank the fields of Germany, on the other 
those of Italy, and approachable from both sides by many 
passes, the difficulties of defence are great ; 1 and Massena 
found himself menaced from both quarters, as well as in 
front, by enemies whose aggregate force was far superior 
to his own. Pressed along the line of the Rhine both 
above and below Lake Constance, he was compelled to re- 
tire upon works constructed by him around Zurich ; be- 
ing unable to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces, 
which approached from both directions. On the 4th of 
June the Austrians assaulted his lines ; and, though the 
attack was repulsed, Massena thought necessary to evacu- 

1 In an entirely open country, without natural obstacles, there are few or 
none of those strategic points, by occupying which in a central position an in- 
ferior force is able to multiply its action against the divided masses of the 
enemy. On the other hand, in a very broken country, such as Switzerland, the 
number of important strategic points, passes, heads of valleys, bridges, etc., 
are so multiplied, that either some must be left unoccupied, or the defenders 
lose, by dissemination, the advantage which concentration upon one or two 
controlling centres usually confers. 


ate the place forty-eight hours later, falling back upon a 
position on the Albis mountains a few miles in his rear. 

During the two months over which these contests between 
Massena and his enemies were spread, the affairs of the 
French in Italy were growing daily more desperate. After 
the victory of Magnano the Austrians were joined, on the 
24th of April, by twenty thousand Russians under Marshal 
Suwarrow, who became general-in-chief of the allied armies. 
On the 26th Scherer turned over his command to Moreau ; 
but, although the latter was an officer of very great capa- 
city, the change was too late to avoid all the impending dis- 
asters. On the 27th the passage of the Adda was forced 
by the allies, and on the 29th they entered Milan ; the 
French retiring upon the Ticino, breaking down the bridges 
over the Po, and taking steps to secure their communica- 
tions with Genoa. Pausing but a moment, they again re- 
treated in two columns upon Turin and Alessandria ; 
Moreau drawing together near the latter place the bulk of 
his force, about twenty thousand men, and sending press- 
ing invitations to Macdonald to hasten the northward 
march of the army of Naples. The new positions were 
taken the 7th of May, and it was not till the 5th that the 
Austro-Russians, delayed by the destruction of the bridges, 
could cross the Po. But the insurrection of the country 
in all directions was showing how little the submission of 
the people and the establishment of new republics were ac- 
companied by any hearty fidelity to the French cause ; and 
on the 18th, leaving a garrison in Alessandria, Moreau re- 
treated upon the Apennines. On the 6th of June his 
troops were distributed among the more important points 
on the crest of the range, from Pontremoli, above Spezia, to 
Loano, and all his convoys had safely crossed the moun- 
tains to the latter point. It was at this moment that he 
had an interview with Admiral Bruix, whose fleet had 
anchored in Vado Bay two days before. a 

1 See ante, vol. i. p. 313. 


While events were thus passing in Upper Italy, Macdon- 
ald, in obedience to his orders, evacuated Naples on the 7th 
of May, at the moment when Moreau was taking his position 
on the Apennines and Bonaparte making his last fruitless 
assault upon Acre. Leaving garrisons at the principal 
strong places of the kingdom, he hurried north, and on the 
25th entered Florence, where, though his junction with 
Moreau was far from being effected, he was for the first 
time in sure communication with him by courier. There 
were two routes that Macdonald might take, — either by the 
sea-shore, which was impracticable for artillery, or else, 
crossing the Apennines, he would find a better road in the 
plain south of the Po, through Modena and Parma, and by 
it might join the army of Italy under the walls of Tortona. 
The latter course was chosen, and after a delay too much pro- 
longed the army of Naples set out on the 9th of June. All 
went well with it until the 17th, when, having passed Modena 
and Parma, routing the allied detachments which he encoun- 
tered, Macdonald reached the Trebia. Here, however, he 
was met by Suwarrow, and after three days' desperate fight- 
ing was forced to retreat by the road he came, to his old 
positions on the other side of the mountains. On the same 
day the citadel of Turin capitulated to the allies. After 
pursuing Macdonald some distance, Suwarrow turned back 
to meet Moreau, and compelled him also to retire to his 
former posts. This disastrous attempt at a junction within 
the enemies' lines cost the French fifteen thousand men. 
It now became necessary for the army of Naples to get to 
Genoa at all costs by the Corniche road, and this it was 
able to do through the inactivity of the enemy, — due, so 
Jomini says, not to Suwarrow, but to the orders from Vienna. 
By the middle of July both armies were united under Mo- 
reau. As a result of the necessary abandonment of Naples 
by the French troops, the country fell at once into the 
power of the armed peasantry, except the garrisons left in 
a few strong places ; and these, by the help of the British 
navy, were also reduced by the 1st of August. 


This striking practical illustration of the justness of 
Bonaparte's views, concerning the danger incurred by the 
French in Upper Italy through attempting to occupy Na- 
ples, was followed by further disasters. On the 21st of July 
the citadel of Alessandria capitulated ; and this loss was 
followed on the 30th by that of Mantua, which had caused 
Bonaparte so much delay and trouble in 1796. The latter 
success was somewhat dearly bought, inasmuch as the em- 
peror of Germany had positively forbidden Suwarrow to 
make any further advance before Mantua fell. 1 Oppor- 
tunity was thus given for the junction of Moreau and Mac- 
donald, and for the reorganization of the latter's army, 
which the affairs of the Trebia and the subsequent precipi- 
tate retreat had left in a state of prostration and incohe- 
rence, from which it did not recover for a month. The 
delay would have been still more favorable to the French 
had Mantua resisted to the last moment ; but it capitulated 
at a time when it could still have held out for several days, 
and Suwarrow was thus enabled to bring up the besieging 
corps to his support, unknown to the enemy. 

Meanwhile Moreau had been relieved by Joubert, one of 
the most brilliant of the young generals who had fought 
under Bonaparte in Italy, The newcomer, reaching his 
headquarters on the 2d of August, at once determined upon 
the offensive, moved thereto by the wish to relieve Mantua, 
and also by the difficulty of feeding his army in the sterile 
mountains now that ruin had befallen the coastwise traffic 
of Genoa, by which supplies had before been maintained. 2 
On the 10th of August the French advanced. On the 14th 
they were in position at Novi ; and there Joubert saw, but 
too late, that Suwarrow's army was far larger than he had 

1 It is said that the old marshal on receiving these orders cried : " This is 
the way armies are ruined." 

2 Jomini, Guerres de la Rev. Fran., livre xv. p. 124. Martin, Hist, de 
France depuis 1789, vol. iii. p. 50. It was just at this moment that Nelson 
sent a division to the Gulf of Genoa to co-operate with Suwarrow. (Nels. 
Disp., vol. iii. p. 431.) 


expected, and that the rumor of Mantua's fall, which he 
had refused to credit, must be true. He intended to re- 
treat ; but the Russian marshal attacked the next morning, 
and after a fierce struggle, which the strength of their posi- 
tion enabled the French to prolong till night, they were 
driven from the field with heavy loss, four general officers 
and thirty -seven guns being captured. Joubert was killed 
early in the day ; and Moreau, who had remained to aid him 
until familiar with all the details of his command, again 
took the temporary direction of the army by the agreement 
of the other generals. Immediately after the battle Su war- 
row sent into the late Papal States a division which, co- 
operating with the Neapolitan royalists and the British 
navy, forced the French to evacuate the new Roman re- 
public on the 27th of September, 1799. 

At this moment of success new dispositions were taken 
by the allied governments, apparently through the initia- 
tive of Austria ; which wished, by removing Suwarrow, to 
keep entire control of Italy in her own hands. This 
change of plan, made at so critical a moment, stopped the 
hitherto triumphant progress ; and, by allowing time for 
Bonaparte to arrive and to act, turned victory into defeat. 
By it Suwarrow was to march across the Alps into Switzer- 
land, and there take charge of the campaign against Mas- 
sena, having under him an army composed mainly of 
Russians. The Archduke Charles, now commanding in 
Switzerland, was to depart with the greater part of the 
Austrian -contingent to the lower Rhine, where he would 
by his operations support the invasion of Holland then 
about to begin. 

On the 13th of August, — the same day that Bruix entered 
Brest, carrying with him the Spanish fleet, and two days 
before the battle of Novi, — the expedition against Holland, 
composed of seventeen thousand Russians and thirty 
thousand British troops, sailed from England. Delayed 
first by light winds and then by heavy weather, the landing 


was not made till the 27th of the month. On the 31st the 
Archduke, taking with him thirty-six thousand Austrians, 
started for the lower Rhine, leaving General Hotze and the 
Russian Korsakoff to make head against Massena until the 
arrival of Suwarrow. The latter, on the 11th of September, 
immediately after the surrender of Tortona, began his 
northward march. 

At the moment the Archduke assumed his new com- 
mand, the French on the lower Rhine, crossing at Mann- 
heim, invested and bombarded Philipsburg ; and their 
operations seemed so far serious as to draw him and a large 
part of his force in the same direction. This greatly di- 
minished one of the difficulties confronting Massena in the 
offensive movement he then had in contemplation. Hear- 
ing at the same time that Suwarrow had started from Italy, 
he made his principal attack from his left upon the Rus- 
sians before Zurich on the 25th of September, the right 
wing of his long line advancing in concert against the 
Austrian position east of Lake Zurich upon its inlet, the 
Liuth. Each effort was completely successful, and deci- 
sive ; the enemy being in both directions driven back, and 
forced to recross the streams above and below the lake. 
Suwarrow, after a very painful march and hard fighting, 
reached his first appointed rendezvous at Mutten two days 
after the battle of Zurich had been lost ; and the corps that 
were to have met him there, fearing their retreat would be 
cut off, had not awaited his arrival. The old marshal with 
great difficulty fought his way through the mountains to 
Ilanz, where at length he assembled his exhausted and 
shattered forces on the 9th of October, the day on which 
Bonaparte landed at Frejus on his return from Egypt. By 
that time Switzerland was entirely cleared of Russians 
and Austrians. The river Rhine, both above and below 
Lake Constance, marked the dividing line between the 

The Anglo-Russian attack upon Holland had no better 


fate. Landing upon the peninsula between the Zuyder Zee 
and the North Sea, the allies were for awhile successful ; 
but their movements were cautious and slow, giving time 
for the local resistance to grow and for re-enforcements to 
come up. The remnants of the Dutch navy were sur- 
rendered and taken back to England ; but the Duke of 
York, who had chief command of the allied troops, was 
compelled on the 18th of October to sign a convention, by 
which the invading force was permitted to retire unmo- 
lested by the first of December. 

During the three remaining months of 1799 some further 
encounters took place in Germany and Italy. In the lat- 
ter the result was a succession of disasters to the French, 
ending with the capitulation, on the 4th of December, of 
Coni, their last remaining stronghold in Piedmont, and the 
retreat of the army into the Riviera of Genoa. Corfu and 
the Ionian Islands having been reduced by the combined 
Russian and Turkish fleets in the previous March, and 
Ancona surrendered on the 10th of November, all Bona- 
parte's conquests in Italy and the Adriatic had been lost to 
France when the Directory fell. The brave soldiers of the 
army of Italy, destitute and starving, without food, with- 
out pay, without clothing or shoes, without even wood for 
camp-fires in the bitter winter nights on the slopes of the 
Apennines, deserted in crowds and made their way to 
the interior. In some regiments none but officers and non- 
commissioned officers were left. An epidemic born of want 
and exposure carried off men by hundreds. Championnet, 
overwhelmed by his misfortunes and by the sight of the 
misery surrounding him, fell ill and died. Bonaparte, now 
First Consul, sent Massena to replace him. 

In Germany nothing decisive occurred in the field ; but 
in consequence of some disagreements of opinion between 
himself and the Archduke, Suwarrow declined further co- 
operation, and, alleging the absolute need of rest for his 
soldiers after their frightful exposure in Switzerland, 


marched them at the end of October into winter quarters 
in Bavaria. This closed the share of the Russians in the 
second coalition. The Czar, who had embarked in the war 
w T ith the idea of restoring the rights of monarchs and the 
thrones that had been overturned, was dissatisfied both 
with the policy of Austria, which looked to her own pre- 
dominance in Italy, and with Great Britain. A twelve- 
month more was to see him at the head of a league of the 
northern states against the maritime claims of the great 
Sea Power, and completely won over to the friendship of 
Bonaparte by the military genius and wily flattery of the 
renowned captain. 

During this disastrous year, in which France lost all 
Italy except the narrow strip of sea-coast about Genoa, and 
after months of desperate struggle had barely held her own 
in Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, the internal state 
of the country was deplorable. The Revolutionary govern- 
ment by the Committee of Public Safety had contrived, by 
the use of the extraordinary powers granted to it, to meet 
with greater or less success the demands of the passing 
hour ; although in so doing it was continually accumulat- 
ing embarrassments against a future day of reckoning. 
The Directory, deprived of the extraordinary powers of its 
predecessor, had succeeded to these embarrassments, and 
the day of reckoning had arrived. It has been seen how 
the reactionary spirit, which followed the rule of blood, 
had prevailed more and more until, in 1797, the political 
composition of the two Councils was so affected by it 
as to produce a strong conflict between them and the 
executive. This dead-lock had been overcome and harmony 
restored by the violent measures of September, 1797, by 
which two Directors and a number of members of the 
legislature had been forcibly expelled from their office. 
The parties, of two very different shades of opinion, to 
which the ejected members belonged, had not, however, 
ceased to exist. In 1798, in the yearly elections to 


replace one-third of the legislature, they again returned a 
body of representatives sufficient to put the Councils in 
opposition to the Directory ; but this year the choice of 
the electors was baffled by a system of double returns. 
The sitting Councils, of the same political party as the 
Directory, pronounced upon these, taking care in so 
doing to insure that the majority in the new bodies 
should be the same as in the old. In May, 1799, 
however, the same circumstance again recurred. The 
fact is particularly interesting, as showing the opposition 
which was felt toward the government throughout the 

This opposition was due to a cause which rarely fails 
to make governments unpopular. The Directory had been 
unsuccessful. It was called upon to pay the bills due to 
the public expectation of better things when once the war 
was over. This it was not able to do. Though peace had 
been made with the continent, there remained so many 
matters of doubt and contention that large armies had to 
be maintained. The expenses of the state went on, but the 
impoverished nation cried out against the heavy taxation 
laid to meet them ; the revenues continually fell short of 
the expenditures, and the measures proposed by the minis- 
ters to remedy this evil excited vehement criticisms. The 
unpopularity of the government, arising from inefficient 
action, reacted upon and increased the weakness which 
was inherent in its cumbrous, many-headed form. Hence 
there resulted, from the debility of the head, an impotence 
which permeated all the links of the executive administra- 
tion down to the lowest members. 

In France itself the disorder and anarchy prevailing in 
the interior touched the verge of social dissolution. 1 
Throughout the country, but especially in the south and 
west, prevailed brigandage on a large scale — partly po- 
litical, partly of the ordinary highway type. There were 

1 The phrase is that of Thiers. Hist, de la Re'v., vol. x. p. 353. 


constant reports of diligences and mail-wagons stopped, 1 of 
public treasure plundered, of republican magistrates assas- 
sinated. Disorganization and robbery spread throughout 
the army, a natural result of small pay, irregularly received, 
and of the system of contributions, administered with 
little responsibility by the commanders of armies in the 
field. The attempt of the government to check and con- 
trol this abuse was violently resented by generals, both of 
the better and the worse class ; by the one as reflecting 
upon their character and injuring their position, by the 
other as depriving them of accustomed though unlawful 
gains. Two men of unblemished repute, Joubert and 
Championnet, came to a direct issue with the Directory 
upon this point. Joubert resigned the command of the 
army of Italy, in which Bernadotte from the same motive 
refused to replace him ; while Championnet, in Naples, 
compelled the commissioner of the Directory to leave the 
kingdom. For this act, however, he was deprived and 
brought to a court-martial. 

From the weakness pervading the administration and 
from the inadequate returns of the revenue, the govern- 
ment was driven to extraordinary measures and to the 
anticipation of its income. Greater and more onerous 
taxes were laid ; and, as the product of these was not 
immediate, purchases had to be made at long and uncertain 
credit, and consequently were exorbitant in price while 
deficient in quantity and quality. From this arose much 
suffering among all government employes, but especially 
among the soldiers, who needed the first attention, and 
whose distress led them easily to side with their officers 

1 A curious evidence of the insecurity of the highways is afforded by an 
ordinance issued by Bonaparte a year after he became First Consul (Jan. 7, 
1801), that no regular diligence should travel without carrying a corporal 
and four privates, with muskets and twenty rounds, and in addition, at night, 
two mounted gendarmes. If specie to the value of over 50,000 francs were 
carried, there must be four gendarmes by day and night. (Corr. de Nap., 
vol. vi. p. 697.) 


against the administration. Contracts so made only staved 
off the evil day, at the price of increasing indebtedness for 
the state and of growing corruption among the contractor 
class and the officials dealing with them. Embarrassment 
and disorder consequently increased apace without any 
proportionate vigor in the external action of the govern- 
ment, and the effects were distributed among and keenly 
felt by all individuals, except the small number whose 
ability or whose corruptness enables them to grow rich 
when, and as, society becomes most distressed. The credit- 
ors of the nation, and especially the holders of bonds, could 
w r ith difficulty obtain even partial payment. In the general 
distrust and perplexity individuals and communities took 
to hoarding both money and food, moved by the dangers of 
transit and by fear of the scarcity which they saw to be 
impending. This stagnation of internal circulation was 
accompanied by the entire destruction of maritime com- 
merce, due to the pressure of the British navy and to the 
insane decree of Nivose 29 (January 19, 1798). 2 Both 
concurred to paralyze the energies of the people, to foster 
indolence and penury, and by sheer want to induce a state 
of violence with which the executive was unable to cope. 

When to this internal distress were added the military 
disasters just related, the outcry became loud and universal. 
All parties united against the Directors, who did not dare 
in 1799 to repeat the methods by which in the two previous 
years a majority had been obtained in the legislature. On 
the 18th of June the new Councils were able to force a 
change in the composition of the Directory, further enfee- 
bling it through the personal weakness of the new members. 
These hastened to reverse many of the measures of their 
predecessors, but no change of policy could restore the lost 
prestige. The effect of these steps was only further to 
depress that branch of the government which, in so critical 
a moment and in so disordered a society, should overbear 

1 See post, Chapter XVII. 


all others and save the state — not by discussion, but by 

Such was the condition of affairs found by Bonaparte 
when he returned from Egypt. The revolution of Brumaire 
18 (November 9, 1799) threw into his hands uncontrolled 
power. This he proceeded at once to use with the sagacity 
and vigor that rarely failed him in his early prime. The 
administration of the country was reconstituted on lines 
which sacrificed local independence, but invigorated the 
grasp of the central executive, and made its will felt in 
every corner of the land. Vexatious measures of the pre- 
ceding government were repealed, and for them was sub- 
stituted a policy of liberal conciliation, intended to rally all 
classes of Frenchmen to the support of the new rule. In 
the West and North, in La Vendee, Brittany, and Nor- 
mandy, the insurrection once suppressed by Hoche had 
again raised its head against the Directory. To the in- 
surgents Bonaparte offered reasonable inducements to sub- 
mission, while asserting his firm determination to restore 
authority at any cost ; and the rapid gathering of sixty thou- 
sand troops in the rebellious districts proved his resolution 
to use for that purpose a force so overwhelming, that the 
completion of its task would release it by the return of 
spring, to take the field against external foes. Before the 
end of February the risings were suppressed, and this time 
forever. Immediate steps were taken to put the finances 
on a sounder basis, and to repair the military disasters of 
the last twelvemonth. To the two principal armies, of 
the Rhine and of Italy, were sent respectively Moreau and 
Massena, the two greatest generals of the republic after 
Bonaparte himself ; and money advanced by Parisian 
bankers was forwarded to relieve the more pressing 
wants of the destitute soldiery. 

At the same time that these means were used to recover 
France herself from the condition of debility into which 
she had fallen, the first consul made a move calculated 


either to gain for her the time she yet needed, or, in case 
it failed, to rally to his support all classes in the state. 
Departing from the usual diplomatic routine, he addressed 
a personal letter to the king of Great Britain and to the 
emperor of Germany, deploring the existing war, and ex- 
pressing a wish that negotiations for peace might be 
opened. The reply from both sovereigns came through 
the ordinary channels of their respective ministries. Aus- 
tria said civilly that she could not negotiate apart from her 
allies ; and furthermore, that the war being only to pre- 
serve Europe from universal disorder, due to the unstable 
and aggressive character of the French governments since 
the Revolution, no stable peace could be made until there 
was some guarantee for a change of policy. This she could 
not yet recognize in the new administration, which owed its 
existence only to the violent overthrow of its predecessor. 
Great Britain took substantially the same ground. Peace 
was worse than worthless, if insecure ; and experience had 
shown that no defence except that of steady and open hos- 
tility was availing, while the system which had prevailed 
in France remained the same. She could not recognize a 
change of system in the mere violent substitution of one 
set of rulers for another. Disavowing any claim to pre- 
scribe to France what should be her form of government, 
the British ministry nevertheless said distinctly that the 
best guarantee for a permanent change of policy would be 
the restoration of the Bourbons. This seemingly impolitic 
suggestion insured — what was very possibly its object — 
the continuance of the war until were realized the advan- 
tages that seemed about to accrue. Not only were the 
conditions at that time overwhelmingly in favor of the 
allies, but there was also every probability of the reduction 
of Egypt and Malta, and of further decisive successes in 
Italy These, if obtained, would be so many cards strength- 
ening their hands in the diplomatic game to be played in 
the negotiations for peace. Believing, as the British min- 


istry of that day assuredly did, that a secure peace could 
only be based on the exhaustion, and not upon the mod- 
eration or good faith, of their enemy, it would have been 
the height of folly to concede time, or submit to that 
vacillation of purpose and relaxation of tension which 
their own people would certainly feel, if negotiations were 

Nor were these military and moral considerations the 
only ones affecting the decision of the government. Despite 
the immense burdens imposed by the war to support her 
own military expenditures and furnish the profuse subsidies 
paid to her allies, the power of the country to bear them 
was greatly increased. Thanks to the watery rampart 
which secured peace within her borders, Great Britain had 
now become the manufactory and warehouse of Europe. 
The commercial and maritime prostration of Holland and 
France, her two great rivals in trade and manufactures, 
had thrown into her hands these sources of their prosperity ; 
and she, through the prodigious advances of the ten years' 
peace, was fully ready to profit by them. By the capture 
of their foreign possessions and the ruin of the splendid 
French colony in Haiti, she now controlled the chief regions 
whence were drawn the tropical products indispensable to 
Europeans. She monopolized their markets as well as the 
distribution of their produce. Jealously reserving to Brit- 
ish merchant shipping the trade of her own and conquered 
colonies, she yet met the immense drain made by the navy 
upon her merchant seamen by relaxing the famous Naviga- 
tion Laws ; permitting her ships to be manned by foreign- 
ers, and foreign ships to engage in branches of her com- 
merce closed to them in time of peace. But while thus 
encouraging neutrals to carry the surplus trade, whose rapid 
growth was outstripping the capacity of her own shipping, 
she rigorously denied their right to do as much for her en- 
emies. These severe restrictions, which her uncontrolled 
sea-power enabled her to maintain, were re-enforced by 

VOL. II. — 2 


suicidal edicts of the French government, retaliating upon 
the same unhappy neutrals the injury their weakness com- 
pelled them to accept from the mistress of the seas, — thus 
driving them from French shores, and losing a concurrence 
essential to French export and import. In this time of 
open war no flag was so safe from annoyance as the British, 
for none other was protected by a powerful navy. Neutrals 
sought its convoy against French depredations, and the nav- 
igation of the world was now swayed by this one great 
power, whom its necessities had not yet provoked to lay a 
yoke heavier than the oppressed could bear. 

To this control of the carrying trade, and of so much of 
the agricultural production of the globe, was added a grow- 
ing absorption of the manufactures of Europe, due to the 
long war paralyzing the peaceful energies of the continen- 
tal peoples. In the great system of circulation and ex- 
change, everything thus tended more and more to Great 
Britain ; which was indicated as the natural centre for ac- 
cumulation and distribution by its security, its accessibility, 
and its nearness to the continent on which were massed the 
largest body of consumers open to maritime commerce. Be- 
coming thus the chief medium through which the business 
of the civilized world was carried on and its wants supplied, 
her capital grew apace ; and was steadily applied, by the 
able hands in which it accumulated, to develop, by increased 
production and increased facilities of carriage, the pow- 
ers of the country to supply demands that were continually 
increasing on both sides of the Atlantic. The foreign trade, 
export and import, which in 1792, the last year of peace, 
had amounted to £44,500,000, rose in 1797 to £50,000,000, 
and in 1800 to £73,700,000. Encouraged by these evident 
proofs of growing wealth, the ministry was able so to in- 
crease the revenue that its receipts, independent of extra- 
ordinary war taxes, far exceeded anything it had ever been 
before, " or," to use Pitt's words, " anything which the 
most sanguine hopes could have anticipated. If," he con- 


turned, " we compare this year of war with former years of 
peace, we shall in the produce of our revenue and in the 
extent of our commerce behold a spectacle at once paradoxi- 
cal, inexplicable, and astonishing. We have increased our 
external and internal commerce to a greater pitch than ever 
it was before ; and we may look to the present as the 
proudest year that has ever occurred for this country." l 

With such resources to sustain the armies of their allies, 
and certain of keeping a control of the sea unparalleled even 
in the history of Great Britain, the ministry looked hope- 
fully forward to a year which should renew and complete 
the successes of 1799. They reckoned without Bonaparte, 
as Bonaparte in his turn reckoned again and again without 

Russia took no more part in the coalition ; but the 
forces of Germany, under the control of Austria and subsi- 
dized by Great Britain, either actually in the field or hold- 
ing the fortified posts on which the operations depended, 
amounted to something over two hundred and fifty thou- 
sand men. Of these, one hundred and twenty-five thousand 
under Melas were in Italy. The remainder under General 
Kray were in Germany, occupying the angle formed by the 
Rhine at Bale, where, after flowing west from Lake Con- 
stance, it turns abruptly north for the remainder of its 
course. The plan of campaign was to stand on the defen- 
sive in Germany, holding in check the enemies there op- 
posed to them, and in Italy to assume a vigorous offensive, 
so as to drive the French finally out of the country. That 
achieved, the idea was entertained of entering France at the 
extreme south, and possibly investing Toulon, supported by 
the British navy. 

When Bonaparte first took charge, there remained to 
France only two hundred and fifty thousand soldiers, of 
whom at the opening of the campaign of 1800 there were 
in the field, opposed to the Austrians, but one hundred and 

1 Speech of February 18, 1801. 


sixty-five thousand. One hundred thousand conscripts 
were called for ; but time would be needed to turn these 
into soldiers, even with the advantage of the nucleus of 
veterans around whom they would be gathered. The equip- 
ment and provisioning both of the old and new levies also 
required time and effort. Bonaparte's project was to as- 
sume the offensive in Germany, turning there the position 
of the Austrians, and driving them northward from the 
Rhine towards the head waters of the Danube. For this 
great operation the army under Moreau was raised to an 
equality with the enemy opposed to him. Massena in Italy 
was directed to stand solely on the defensive, concentrating 
around Genoa the bulk of the thirty-five or forty thousand 
men which alone he had. While he held this position in 
such force, the Austrians could scarcely advance into 
France along the narrow coast road, leaving him in the 
rear. When the expected success in Germany was won, 
there was to be detached from that army, which should 
then assume an attitude of observation, a corps twenty 
thousand strong. This should cross Switzerland, entering 
Italy by the St. Gothard Pass, and there joining a force of 
forty thousand to be led by the First Consul in person 
through the Pass of St. Bernard. This mass of sixty thou- 
sand men was to throw itself in rear of the Austrians, 
forcing them to fight for their communications through 
Lombardy, and hoping under the first general of the age to 
win, over a less skilful opponent, such victories as had 
illustrated the famous campaigns of 1796 and 1797. 

Bonaparte's plan thus hinged upon the French occupation 
of Switzerland, which, intervening as a great rampart be- 
tween the Austrians in Germany and Italy, permitted him 
to cover the movements against the former by the curtain 
of the Rhine between Lake Constance and Bale, and to use 
safely and secretly the passes leading into the plains of 
Lombardy and Piedmont. To this advantage of position 
he conjoined, with inconceivable wiliness, an absolute 


secrecy as to the very existence of the forty thousand, 
known as the Army of Reserve, which he himself was to 
lead. The orders constituting this force were given the 
utmost publicity. Its headquarters were established at 
Dijon, and one of Bonaparte's most trusted subordinates 
was sent to command it. An appeal was made to discharged 
soldiers to join its ranks ; some material of war and 
some conscripts, with a corps of officers, were assembled. 
There preparations stopped — or went on so feebly in com- 
parison with the glowing boasts of the French journals, that 
hostile spies were entirely deceived. The Army of Reserve 
became the joke of Europe, while the scattered detachments 
that were to compose it were assembling at points separated, 
yet chosen with Bonaparte's consummate skill to permit 
rapid concentration when the hour came. To insure per- 
fect secrecy, the correspondence of these different bodies 
was with him alone, not through the Ministry of War. 

The campaign was opened by the Austrians in Italy. 
Melas, with seventy thousand men, attacked Masse'na along 
the chain of the Apennines. Difficulties of subsistence 
had forced the latter to disseminate his troops between 
Genoa and Nice. Through this necessarily thin line the 
Austrians broke on the 5th of April, and after several days 
of strenuous resistance, furthered by the facilities for de- 
fence offered by that mountainous region, Massena was 
driven into Genoa. The left wing of his army under Su- 
chet was forced back toward Nice, where it took position 
on the Yar. On the 18th of April Masse'na was definitively 
shut up in Genoa with eighteen thousand men, and so 
short of provisions that it became a matter of the utmost 
urgency to relieve him. 

On April 25 Moreau began his movements, of a some- 
what complicated character, but resulting in his whole army 
being safely across the Rhine on the first of May. Eighty 
thousand French troops were then drawn up between Bale 
and Lake Constance in an east and west direction, threat- 


ening the left flank of the enemy, whose front was north 
and south, and in position to attack both their line of re- 
treat and the immense depots whose protection embar- 
rassed all the movements of the Austrians. On the 3d of 
May the latter were defeated at Engen, and their depot at 
Stokach was captured. On the 5th they were again beaten 
at Moesskirch, and on the 9th at Biberach, losing other 
large deposits of stores. General Kray then retired upon 
Ulm on the Danube, and the first act of Bonaparte's design 
was accomplished. It had not corresponded with the lines 
laid down by him, which were too adventurous to suit 
Moreau, nor was the result equal to his expectations ; but 
the general strategic outcome was to check for the time 
any movements of the enemy in Germany, and enable Mo- 
reau to send the force needed to co-operate with Bonaparte 
in Italy. This started on the 13th of May, and was joined 
on the w T ay by some detachments in Switzerland ; the 
whole amounting to between fifteen and twenty thousand 
men. 1 

On the 6th of May the first consul left Paris, having de- 
layed to the last moment in order to keep up the illusions 
of the Austrian commander-in-chief in Italy. The crossing 
of the St. Bernard began on the 15th, and on the 20th the 
whole army had passed. On the 26th it issued in the plains 
of Piedmont ; whence Bonaparte turned to the eastward, to 
insure his great object of throwing his force across the 
enemy's communications and taking from him all hope of 
regaining them without a battle. On the first of June he 
entered Milan. 

Meanwhile Massena's army, a prey to horrible famine, 
prolonged in Genoa a resistance which greatly contributed 
to the false position of the Austrians. Of these, twenty- 
five thousand were before Nice, thirty thousand before 
Genoa. Twenty thousand more had been lost by casualties 
since the campaign opened. Unwilling to relinquish his 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Empire, vol. i., p. 332, 


gains, Melas waited too long to concentrate his scattered 
troops ; and when at last he sent the necessary orders, 
Massena was treating to evacuate Genoa. The Austrian 
officer on the spot, unwilling to lose the prize, postponed 
compliance until it was secured, — a delay fraught with 
serious results. On the 5th Genoa was given up, and the 
besiegers, leaving a garrison in the place, marched to join 
the commander-in-chief, who was gathering his forces 
around Alessandria. Meanwhile Bonaparte had crossed to 
the south side of the Po with half his army. On the 14th 
of June was fought the battle of Marengo. Anxious lest 
the foe might give him the slip, the first consul had spread 
his troops too widely ; and the first events of the day were 
so far in favor of the Austrians that Melas, who was sev- 
enty-six years old, left the field at two in the afternoon, 
certain of victory, to seek repose. An hour later the op- 
portune arrival of General Desaix turned the scales, and 
Bonaparte remained conqueror on the ground, standing 
across the enemy's line of retreat. The following day 
Melas signed a convention abandoning all northern Italy, 
as far as the Mincio, behind which the Austrians were to 
withdraw. All the fortified places were given up to France, 
including the hardly won Genoa. While awaiting the Em- 
peror's answer to propositions of peace, sent by the First 
Consul, there was to he in Italy a suspension of arms, dur- 
ing which neither army should send detachments to Ger- 
many. On the 2d of July Bonaparte re-entered Paris in 
triumph, after an absence of less than two months. 

Meantime Moreau, after learning the successful crossing 
of the St. Bernard, had resumed the offensive. Moving to the 
eastward, he crossed the Danube below Ulm with part of his 
force on the 19th of June, threatening Kray's communica- 
tions with Bohemia. A partial encounter on that day left 
five thousand prisoners in the hands of the French, who 
maintained the position they had gained. The same night 
Kray evacuated Ulm, moving rapidly off by a road to the 


northward and so effecting his escape. Moreau, unable to 
intercept, followed for some distance and then stopped a 
pursuit which promised small results. He was still igno- 
rant of the battle of Marengo, of which the Austrians now 
had news ; and the latter, while concealing the victory, an- 
nounced to him' the suspension of arms, and suggested a 
similar arrangement in Germany. Convinced that events 
favorable to France lay behind this proposition. Moreau 
would come to no agreement ; but on the contrary decided 
at once to secure for his victorious army the most advan- 
tageous conditions with which to enter upon negotiations. 
Closely investing the important fortresses of Ulm and 
Ingolstadt on the Danube, with part of his force, he re- 
crossed the river with the remainder and advanced into 
Bavaria. On the 28th of June he entered Munich ; and 
near there was signed on the 15th of July an armistice, 
closely corresponding with that concluded by Bonaparte in 
Italy just one month before. The two belligerents retired 
behind appointed lines, not again to engage in hostilities 
without twelve days' notice. During this suspension of 
arms the blockaded Austrian fortresses should receive every 
fortnight provisions proportioned to their consumption, so 
that in case of renewed operations they would be in the same 
condition as when the truce began. The two great French 
armies were now encamped in the fertile plains of Italy and 
Germany, living in quiet off districts external to France, 
which was thus relieved of the larger part of their expense. 
The effect of this short and brilliant campaign of unbrok- 
en French successes was to dispose to peace both members 
of the coalition. Neither, however, was yet reduced to 
negotiate apart from its ally. On the very day the news of 
Marengo was received at Vienna, but before the last re- 
verses in Germany, Austria had renewed her engagements 
with Great Britain, both powers stipulating not to treat 
singly. The first consul, on the other hand, was distinctly 
opposed to joint discussions^ his constant policy in the cabi- 


net as in the field being to separate his opponents. As 
Austria's great need was to gain time, she sent to Paris an 
envoy empowered to exchange views with the French gov- 
ernment but to conclude nothing. The emperor also in- 
timated his wish for a general pacification, and on the 9th 
of August the British minister at Vienna notified to that 
court the willingness of his own to enter into negotiations 
for a general peace. 

With this began an encounter of wits, in which Bonaparte 
showed himself as astute at a bargain as he was wily in the 
field. Austria, if not given too much time, was ,at his 
mercy ; but Great Britain held over him a like advantage in 
her control of the sea, which was strangling the colonial 
empire he passionately wished to restore. Haiti had es- 
caped from all but nominal control ; Martinique, the gem of 
the Antilles, was in British hands ; Malta and Egypt, the 
trophies of his own enterprise, were slowly but surely expir- 
ing. For these he too needed time ; for with it there was 
good prospect of soon playing a card which should reverse, 
or at least seriously modify, the state of the game, by bring- 
ing Russia and the Baltic navies into the combination 
against Great Britain. In this support, and in the extrem- 
ity to which he might reduce Austria, lay his only chances 
to check the great opponent of France ; for, while almost 
supreme on the Continent, he could not from the coast pro- 
ject his power beyond the range of a cannon's ball. His 
correspondence throughout this period abounds with instruc- 
tions and exhortations to fit out the fleets, to take the sea, 
to relieve Malta and Egypt, to seize Sardinia by an expedi- 
tion from Corsica, and Mahon by a squadron from Brest. 
All fell fruitless before the exhaustion of French sea 
power, as did also his plan for an extensive cruise on a 
grand scale against British commerce in many quarters of 
the world. " I see with regret," wrote he to the minister 
of Marine, " that the armament of the fleet has been sacri^ 
ficed to that of a great number of small vessels ; " but in 


truth there was nothing else to do. His ablest admirals 
failed to equip ships from which every resource was cut off 
by the omnipresent cruisers of the enemy. " We can never 
take Mahon," he writes to the court of Spain, in the full 
swing of his triumphs after Marengo ; " therefore make war 
on Portugal and take her provinces, so as to enter negotia- 
tions for peace with your hands as full as possible of 
equivalents. " 

The Czar Paul had joined the second coalition full of 
ardor against the French revolution and determined to 
restore the princes who had lost their thrones. He had 
been bitterly mortified by the reverses to his troops in 1799, 
and especially by the disaster to Suwarrow, for which he 
not unjustly blamed Austria. He was also dissatisfied to 
find in his allies less of zeal for unfortunate sovereigns than 
of desire to reduce the power of France, to whose system 
they attributed the misfortunes of Europe. Disappoint- 
ment in his unbalanced mind turned soon to coolness and 
was rapidly passing to hostility. The transition was assist- 
ed, and a pretext for a breach with Great Britain afforded, 
by a fresh outbreak of the old dispute between her and the 
Baltic powers concerning the rights of neutrals. Denmark 
in 1799 adopted the policy of convoying her merchant ves- 
sels by ships of war, and claimed that a statement from the 
senior naval officer, that the cargoes contained nothing for- 
bidden by the law of nations, exempted the convoy from the 
belligerent right of search. British statesmen denied that 
this conceded belligerent right could be nullified by any rule 
adopted by a neutral ; to which they were the more impelled 
as the Danes and themselves differed radically in the defini- 
tion of contraband. Danish naval officers being instructed 
to resist the search of their convoys, two hostile encounters 
took place ; one in December, 1799, and the other in July, 
1800. In the latter several were killed on both sides, and 
the Danish frigate was carried into the Downs. Seeing the 
threatening character of affairs, the British ministry took 


immediate steps to bring them to an issue. An ambassador 
was sent to Copenhagen supported by nine ships-of-the-line 
and several bomb-vessels ; and on the 29th of August, 
barely a month after the affray, a convention was signed 
by which the general subject of searching ships uuder con- 
voy was referred to future discussion, but Denmark con- 
sented to suspend her convoys until a definitive treaty was 
made. The Danish frigate was at once released. 

It will be observed that this collision occurred in the very 
midst of the negotiations between Austria and France, to 
which Great Britain claimed the right to be a party. The 
whole vexed question of neutral and belligerent rights was 
thus violently raised, at a moment most inauspicious to 
the allies and most favorable to Bonaparte. The latter, 
crowned with victory upon the Continent, found every neu- 
tral commercial state disposed to side with him in contest- 
ing positions considered by Great Britain to be vital to her 
safety. It was for him to foster this disposition and com- 
bine the separate powers into one great effort, before which 
the Mistress of the Seas should be compelled to recede and 
submit. The occasion here arose, as it were spontaneously, 
to realize what became the great dream of his life and ulti- 
mately led him to his ruin, — to unite the Continent against 
the British Islands and, as he phrased it, " to conquer the 
sea by the land." Circumstances, partly anterior to his 
rise to power, and partly contrived by his sagacious policy 
during the previous few months, particularly favored at 
this moment such a league, for which the affair of the 
Danish convoy supplied an impulse, and the prostration of 
Great Britain's ally, Austria, an opportunity. Bonaparte 
underestimated the vitality and influence of a state upon 
which centred a far-reaching commercial system, and in 
valuing naval power he did not appreciate that a mere mass 
of ships had not the weight he himself was able to impart 
to a mass of men. He never fully .understood the maritime 
problems with which from time to time he had to deal ; but 


he showed wonderful skill at this critical period in combin- 
ing against his principal enemy an opposition, for which 
Prussia afforded the body and the hot temper of the Czar 
the animating soul. 

Since 1795 Prussia had shut herself up to a rigorous 
neutrality, in which w^ere embraced the North German 
states. Under this system, during the maritime war, the 
commerce of the larger part of the Continent poured in 
through these states — by the great German rivers, the 
Ems, the Weser, and the Elbe — and through the cities of 
Hamburg and Bremen. The tonnage clearing from Great 
Britain alone to North Germany increased from 120,000 
in 1792 to 389,000 in 1800; a traffic of which Prussia 
took the lion's share. To these advantages of neutral 
territory it was desirable to join the utmost freedom 
for neutral navigation. Upon this Great Britain bore 
heavily; but so large a proportion of the trade was 
done through her, and the sea was so entirely under the 
power of her navy, that prudence had so far dictated ac- 
quiescence in her claims, even when not admitted. This 
was particularly the case while Russia, under Catherine 
II., and in the first years of her son, tacitly or openly 
supported Great Britain; and while Austria, though 
badly beaten in the field, remained unshaken in power. 
The weaker maritime countries, Sweden, Denmark, and 
the United States of America, were determined by similar 
motives. They groaned under the British exactions ; but 
the expansion of their commerce outweighed the injuries 
received, and submission was less hurtful than resistance 
in arms. Russia herself, though not strictly a maritime 
state, was a large producer of articles which were mainly 
carried by British ships and for which England was the 
chief customer. The material interests of Russia, and 
especially of the powerful nobles, were therefore bound up 
with peace with Great .Britain ; but an absolute monarch 
could disregard this fact, at least for a time. The furious, 


impulsive temper of Paul I., if aroused, was quite capable 
of overleaping all prudential considerations, of using the 
colossal power of his empire to support the other states, 
and even of compelling them to act in concert with him. 

Such were the discordant elements whioii Bonaparte had 
to reconcile into a common effort: on the one hand, the 
strong though short-sighted mercantile interests, which 
to retain great present advantages would favor submission 
rather than resistance to the exactions of Great Britain. 
These were represented by the development of carrying 
trade in the neutral Baltic states, by the enlarged com- 
merce of Prussia and North Germany, — which through 
their neutrality in a maritime war had become the high- 
way of intercourse between the Continent and the outer 
world, — and by the productions of Russia, which formed 
the revenue of her great proprietors, and found their way 
to market wholly by sea. Bound together by the close 
relations which commerce breeds between states, and by 
the dependence of each upon the capital and mercantile sys- 
tem of Great Britain, these interests constituted the pros- 
perity of nations, and could by no rulers be lightly disre- 
garded. On the other hand stood the dignity of neutral 
flags and their permanent interests, — always contrary to 
those of belligerents, — the ambition of Prussia and her 
jealousy of Austria, and finally the chivalrous, reckless, 
half insane Paul I., seeking now with all the bitterness 
of personal feeling to gratify his resentment against his 
late allies. 

Bonaparte had already begun to work upon the Czar as 
well as upon the neutral powers. Closely observing the 
political horizon from his first accession to office, he had 
noted every condition capable of raising embarrassments 
to Great Britain, whom his unerring military insight had 
long before recognized l as the key to a military situation, 
in which his own object was the predominance of France, 

1 See ante, p. 251. 


not only on the Continent but throughout the world. 
Sagacious a statesman as he was, and clearly as he recog- 
nized the power of moral and political motives, his ideal 
of control was essentially forcible, based upon superior 
armies and superior fleets ; and consequently every politi- 
cal problem was by him viewed much as a campaign, in 
which forces were to be moved, combined, and finally 
massed upon the vital points of an enemy's position. The* 
power of Great Britain was sea power in its widest sense, 
commercial and naval ; against it, therefore, he aimed t*o 
effect such a combination as would both destroy her com- 
merce and cripple her navy. The impotence of France 
and Spain, united, to injure the one or the other had been 
clearly shown by repeated defeats, and by the failure of 
the commerce-destroying so industriously carried on dur- 
ing seven years of war. Far from decaying or languish- 
ing, the commerce of Great Britain throve everywhere 
with redoubled vigor, and her fleets rode triumphant in all 
seas. There was, however, one quarter in which she had 
not hitherto been disturbed, except by the quickly extin- 
guished efforts of the Dutch navy ; and just there, in the 
Baltic and North Sea, was the point where, next to the 
British islands and seas themselves, she was most vulner- 
able. There was concentrated a great part of her ship- 
ping ; there was the market for the colonial produce stored 
in her overflowing warehouses ; there also were gathered 
three navies, whose united masses — manned by hardy 
seamen trained in a boisterous navigation and sheltered 
in an enclosed sea of perilous access — might overweight 
a force already strained to control the Mediterranean, to 
blockade the hostile arsenals, and to protect the merchant 
shipping which thronged over every ocean highway. 

To close the north of Europe to British trade, and to 
combine the Baltic navies against that of Great Britain, 
became thenceforth the fixed ideas of Bonaparte's life. 
To conciliate Denmark he released a number of Danish 


ships, which had been arrested by the Directory for sub- 
mitting to search by British cruisers. The extent of the 
czar's alienation from his former allies not being at first 
apparent, he next courted Prussia, the head of the North 
German neutrality, in whose power it was to arrest British 
trade both through her own territory and through Ham- 
burg. Prussia was ambitious to play a leading part in 
Europe. The five years spent by Austria, France, and 
Great Britain in exhausting warfare, she had used to 
consolidate her power and husband her resources. She 
wished now to pose as a mediator, and looked for the 
time when the prostration of the combatants and her own 
restored strength would cause them to bend to her influ- 
ence, and yield her points, through the simple exhibition of 
her force. The advances and flatteries of the first consul 
were graciously received, but the path Prussia had traced 
for herself was to involve no risks — only gains ; she 
wished much, but would venture naught. It was a dan- 
gerous part to play, this waiting on opportunity, against 
such a man as swayed the destinies of the Continent dur- 
ing the next twelve years. From it arose a hesitating, 
selfish, and timid policy, fluctuating with every breath of 
danger or hope of advantage, dishonoring the national 
name, until it ended in Jena and the agonies of humilia- 
tion through which the country passed between that disas- 
ter and the overthrow of Napoleon. Such a spirit is prone 
to side with a strong combination and to yield to a mas- 
terful external impulse. 

Under this Bonaparte next sought to bring her. " We 
shall make nothing out of Prussia," he writes to Talley- 
rand on the first of June, 1800, on his way to Marengo; 
and he adds, "If the news from Egypt [apparently the 
defeat of the Turks by Kleber] is confirmed, it will be- 
come important to have some one in Russia. The Otto- 
man Empire cannot exist much longer, and if Paul I. 
turns his looks in that direction our interests become 


common." 1 Bonaparte was at no pains to reconcile this 
view with an assurance made a month later to Turkey 
that "no anxiety need be felt about Egypt, which will be 
restored as soon as the Porte shall resume its former rela- 
tions with France." 2 On the 4th of June he recommends 
general and nattering overtures to the czar, accompanied 
by special marks of consideration. The latter was fully 
prepared to be won by compliments from the man for 
whose military glory he had come to feel a profound en- 
thusiasm. On the 4th of July Bonaparte's general ad- 
vances took form in a definite proposal to surrender to 
Russian troops Malta, whose speedy loss by himself he 
saw to be inevitable; an offer calculated not only to 
charm the Czar, who delighted to fancy himself the head 
and protector of an ancient order of knights, but also to 
sow discord between him and Great Britain, if, as was 
probable, the latter declined to yield her prey to a friend 
who at a critical moment had forsaken her. The letter 
sketched by the first consul was carefully worded to 
quicken the ready vanity of its recipient. " Desiring to 
give a proof of personal consideration to the emperor of 
Russia and to distinguish him from the other enemies of 
the republic, who fight from a vile love of gain, the first 
consul wishes, if the garrison of Malta is constrained by 
famine to evacuate the place, to restore it to the hands 
of the czar as grand master of the order ; and although 
the first consul is certain that Malta has provisions for 
several months, 3 he wishes his Majesty to inform him 
what conventions he would wish to make, and what meas- 
ures to take, so that, if the case arise, his troops may enter 
that place. " 4 This was shortly followed by the release of 
the Russian prisoners in France, in number between seven 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. vi. p. 410. 2 Ibid., vol. vi. p. 497. 

3 " Voyant bien," says M. Thiers, Bonaparte's panegyrist, " que Malta ne 
pouvait pas tenir longtemps." (Cons, et Emp., vol. ii. p. 92.) 

4 Corr. de Nap., vol. vi. p. 498. 


and eight thousand, whom Bonaparte clad and dismissed 
with their colors and their officers to return into Russia ; 
suggesting that, if the czar thought proper, he "might 
demand of the English to release an equal number of 
French prisoners; but if not, the first consul hoped he 
would accept his troops as an especial mark of the esteem 
felt for the brave Russian armies." 1 

Immediately after these transactions occurred the colli- 
sion between British and Danish cruisers in the Channel, 
and the entrance of the Baltic by the British fleet, to sup- 
port its ambassador in his negotiation with Denmark. 
Paul I. made of the latter a pretext for sequestrating all 
British property in Russia, to be held as a guarantee 
against the future action of Great Britain. This order, 
dated August 29, 1800, was followed by another of Sep- 
tember 10, announcing that "several political circum- 
stances induced the emperor to think that a rupture of 
friendship with England may ensue," and directing a con- 
centration of Russian troops. The cloud blew over for a 
moment, the sequestration being removed on the 22d of 
September ; but the fall of Malta, which had surrendered 
on the 5th of the same month, brought matters to an issue. 
The czar had gladly accepted Bonaparte's adroit advances 
and designated a general to go to Paris, take command of 
the released prisoners and with them repair to Malta. 
The capitulation became known to him early in Novem- 
ber; before which he had formally published his intention 
to revive the Armed Neutrality of 1780 against the mari- 
time claims of Great Britain. It being very doubtful 
whether the latter would deliver the island after his un- 
friendly measures, a sequestration of British property was 
again decreed. Some three hundred ships were seized, 
their crews marched into the interior, and seals placed on 
all warehouses containing British property; the czar de- 
claring that the embargo should not be removed until the 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. vi. p. 520. 
vol. it. — 3 


acknowledgment of his rights to Malta, as grand master 
of the Order. The sequestrated property was to be held by 
an imperial commission and applied to pay debts due to 
Russian subjects by private Englishmen. 

Affairs had now reached a stage where Prussia felt 
encouraged to move. The breach between Great Britain 
and Russia had opened wide, while the relations of the 
czar and first consul had become so friendly as to assure 
their concert. The armistice between Austria and France 
still continued, pending the decision whether the latter 
would negotiate with the emperor and Great Britain con- 
jointly ; but Bonaparte was a close as well as a hard bar- 
gainer. He would not admit the joint negotiation, nor 
postpone the renewal of hostilities beyond the 11th of 
September, except on condition of a maritime truce as 
favorable to France as he considered the land armistice to 
be to Austria. He proposed entire freedom of navigation 
to merchant vessels, the raising of the blockades of Brest, 
Cadiz, Toulon, and Flushing, and that Malta and Alexan- 
dria should be freely open to receive provisions by French 
or neutral vessels. The effect would be to allow the 
French dockyards to obtain naval stores, of which they 
were utterly destitute, and Malta and Egypt to receive 
undefined quantities of supplies and so prolong their resis- 
tance indefinitely. Great Britain was only willing to 
adopt for Egypt and Malta the literal terms of the armis- 
tice applied to the three Austrian fortresses blockaded by 
French troops. These were to receive every fortnight 
provisions proportioned to their consumption, and the 
British ministry offered to allow the same to Malta and 
Egypt They also conceded free navigation, except in the 
articles of military and naval stores. Bonaparte refused. 
Austria's advantage in the armistice, he said, was not the 
mere retention of the fortresses, but the use she was mak- 
ing of her respite. Between these two extreme views no 
middle term could be found. In fact, great as were the 


results of Marengo, and of Moreau's more methodical ad- 
vance into Germany, the material advantage of Great 
Britain over France still far exceeded that of France over 
Austria. The French had gained great successes, but 
they were now forcing the enemy back upon the centre of 
his power and they had not possession of his communica- 
tions; whereas Great Britain had shut off, not merely 
Egypt and Malta, but France herself from all fruitful 
intercourse with the outer world. The negotiation for a 
maritime truce was broken off on the 9th of October. 
Meanwhile Bonaparte, declining to await its issue, had 
given notice that hostilities would be resumed between 
the 5th and 10th of September; and Austria, not yet 
ready, was fain to purchase a further delay by surrender- 
ing the blockaded places, Ulm, Ingolstadt, and Philips- 
burg, A convention to this effect was concluded, and the 
renewal of the war postponed for forty-five days dating 
from September 21st. 

In such conditions Prussia saw one of those opportu- 
nities which, under Bonaparte's manipulation, so often 
misled her. The prostration of her German rival would 
be hastened, and the support of the first consul in the 
approaching apportionment of indemnities to German 
states secured, by joining the concert of the Baltic powers 
against Great Britain. Without this accession to the 
northern league the quarrel would be mainly naval, and 
its issue, before the disciplined valor of British seamen, 
scarcely doubtful. Prussia alone was so situated as to 
deal the direct and heavy blow at British commerce of 
closing its accustomed access to the Continent; and the 
injury thus inflicted so far exceeded any she herself could 
incidentally receive, as to make this course less hazardous 
than that of offending the czar and the French govern- 
ment. The political connection of Hanover with Great 
Britain was a further motive, giving Prussia the hope, so 
often dangled before her eyes by Bonaparte, of perma- 


nently annexing the German dominions of the British 
king. An occasion soon arose for showing her bias. In 
the latter part of October a British cruiser seized a Prus- 
sian merchantman trying to enter the Texel with a cargo 
of naval stores. The captor, through stress of weather, 
took his prize into Cuxhaven, a port at the mouth of the 
Elbe belonging to Hamburg, through which passed much 
of the British commerce with the Continent. Prussia de- 
manded its release of the Hamburg senate, and upon refu- 
sal ordered two thousand troops to take possession of the 
port. The senate then bought the prize and delivered it 
to Prussia, and the British government also directed its 
restoration ; a step of pure policy with which Fox taunted 
the ministry. It was, as he truly remarked, a concession 
of principle, dictated by the fact that Prussia, while capa- 
ble of doing much harm to Great Britain, could not be 
reached by the British navy. 

Whether it was wise to waive a point, in order to with- 
hold an important member from the formidable combina- 
tion of the North, may be argued; but the attempt met 
the usual fate of concessions attributed to weakness. The 
remonstrances of the British ambassador received the 
reply that the occupation, having been ordered, must be 
carried out; that the neutrality of Cuxhaven "being thus 
placed under the guarantee of the king will be more effec- 
tually out of the reach of all violation." Such reasoning 
indicated beyond doubt the stand Prussia was about to 
take; and her influence fixed the course of Denmark, 
which is said to have been averse from a step that threat- 
ened to stop her trade and would probably make her the 
first victim of Great Britain's resentment. On the 16th 
of December a treaty renewing the Armed Neutrality of 
1780 was signed at St. Petersburg by Russia and Sweden, 
and received the prompt adherence of Denmark and Prus- 
sia. Its leading affirmations were that neutral ships were 
free to carry on the coasting and colonial trade of states 


at war, that enemy's goods under the neutral flag were not 
subject to seizure, and that blockades, to be respected, 
must be supported by such a force of ships before the 
port as to make the attempt to enter hazardous. A defi- 
nition of contraband was adopted excluding naval stores 
from that title ; and the claim was affirmed that vessels 
under convoy of a ship of war were not liable to the bel- 
ligerent right of search. Each of these assertions con- 
tested one of the maritime claims upon which Great 
Britain conceived her naval power, and consequently her 
place among the nations, to depend; but the consenting 
states bound themselves to maintain their positions by 
force, if necessary. 

Thus was successfully formed the combination of the 
Northern powers against Great Britain, the first and most 
willing of those effected by Bonaparte. By a singular 
coincidence, which recalls the opportuneness of his de- 
parture from England in 1798 to check the yet undivined 
expedition against Egypt, 1 Nelson, the man destined also 
to strike this coalition to the ground, was during its for- 
mation slowly journeying from the Mediterranean, with 
which his name and his glory both before and after are 
most closely associated, to the North Sea; as though 
again drawn by some mysterious influence, to be at hand 
for unknown services which he alone could render. On 
the 11th of July, a week after Bonaparte made his first 
offer of Malta to the czar, Nelson left Leghorn for Trieste 
and Vienna. He passed through Hamburg at the very 
time that the affair of the Prussian prize was under dis- 
cussion, and landed in England on the 6th of November. 
Finding his health entirely restored by the land journey, 
he applied for immediate service, and was assigned to 
command a division of the Channel fleet under Lord St. 
Vincent; but he did not go afloat until the 17th of Janu- 
ary, 1801, when his flag was hoisted on board the "San 

1 See vol. i. pp. 249, 256. 


Josef," the three-decker he had captured at the battle of 
Cape St. Vincent. Meanwhile, however, it had been 
settled between the Admiralty and himself that if a fleet 
were sent into the Baltic, he should go as second in com- 
mand to Sir Hyde Parker; and when in the very act of 
reporting to St. Vincent, the day before he joined the 
San Josef, a letter arrived from Parker announcing his 

By this time Austria had received a final blow, which 
forced her to treat alone, and postponed for nearly five 
years her reappearance in the field. The emperor had 
sent an envoy to Luneville, who was met by Joseph Bona- 
parte as the representative of France; but refusing to 
make peace apart from Great Britain, hostilities were re- 
sumed on the 28th of November. On the 3d of December 
Moreau won the great battle of Hohenlinden, and then 
advanced upon Vienna. On the 25th an armistice was 
signed at Steyer, within a hundred miles of the Austrian 
capital. Successes, less brilliant but decided, were obtained 
in Italy, resulting on the 16th of January, 1801, in an 
armistice between the armies there. At nearly the same 
moment with this last news the first consul received a 
letter from the czar, manifesting extremely friendly feel- 
ings towards France, while full of hatred towards Eng- 
land, and signifying his intention to send an ambassador 
to Paris. This filled Bonaparte with sanguine hopes, the 
expression of which shows how heavily sea power weighed 
in his estimation. "Peace with the emperor," he wrote 
to his brother at Lune'ville, "is nothing in comparison 
with the alliance of the czar, which will dominate Eng- 
land and preserve Egypt for us ; " 1 and he ordered him to 
prolong the negotiations until the arrival of the expected 
ambassador, that the engagements contracted with Ger- 
many might be made in concert with Russia. Upon a 
similar combined action he based extravagant expecta- 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. vi. p. 738, Jan. 21, 1801. 


tions of naval results, dependent upon the impression, 
with which he so hardly parted, that one set of ships was 
equal to another. 1 A courier was at once dispatched to 
Spain to arrange expeditions against Ireland, against 
Brazil and the East Indies, to the Caribbean Sea for the 
recovery of the French and Spanish islands, and to the 
Mediterranean to regain Minorca. "In the embarrass- 
ment about to come upon England, threatened in the 
Archipelago by the Russians and in the northern seas by 
the combined Powers, it will be impossible for her long 
to keep a strong squadron in the Mediterranean. " 2 

The Russian envoy not arriving, however, Joseph Bona- 
parte was instructed to bring matters to a conclusion; 
and on the 9th of February the Austrian minister at Lun6- 
ville, after a stubborn fight over the terms, signed a treaty 
of peace. The principal conditions were : 1. The defini- 
tive surrender of all German possessions west of the 
Rhine, so that the river became the frontier of France 

1 Contrast Bonaparte's reliance upon the aggregate numbers of Baltic 
navies with Nelson's professional opinion when about to fight them. " Dur- 
ing the Council of War (March 31, 1801) certain difficulties were started by 
some of the members relative to each of the three Powers we should have to 
engage, either in succession or united, in those seas. The number of the Bus- 
sians was in particular represented as formidable. Lord Nelson kept pacing 
the cabin, mortified at everything which savored either of alarm or irresolu- 
tion. When the above remark was applied to the Swedes, he sharply ob- 
served, ' The more numerous the better ; ' and when to the Bussians, he 
repeatedly said, ' So much the better ; I wish they were twice as many, — the 
easier the victory, depend on it.' He alluded, as he afterwards explained in 
private, to the total want of tactique among the Northern fleets." (Col. 
Stewart's Narrative; Nelson's Dispatches, vol. iv. p. 801.) 

James, who was a careful investigator, estimates the allied Bussian, Swedish, 
and Danish navies in tbe Baltic at fifty-two sail, of which not over forty-one 
were in condition for service, instead of eighty-eight as represented by some 
writers. " It mu<t have been a very happy combination of circumstances," he 
adds, " that could have assembled in one spot twenty-five of those forty-one ; 
and against that twenty-five of three different nations, all mere novices in 
naval tactics, eighteen, or, with Nelson to command, fifteen British sail were 
mora than a match." (Nav. Hist., vol. iii. p. 43 ; ed. 1878.) 

2 Corr. de Nap., vol. vi. p. 747. To Talleyrand, Jan. 27, 1801. 


from Switzerland to Holland. 2. The cession of Belgium 
made at Campo Formio was confirmed. 3. In Italy, 
Austria herself was confined to the east bank of the 
Adige, and the princes of that house having principali- 
ties west of the river were dispossessed ; their territories 
going to the Cisalpine Republic and to an infante of 
Spain, who was established in Tuscany with the title of 
King of Etruria. The Cisalpine and Etruria being de- 
pendent for their political existence upon France, the 
latter, through its control of their territory, interposed be- 
tween Austria and Naples and shut off the British from 
access to Leghorn. 4. The eleventh article of the treaty 
guaranteed the independence of the Dutch, Swiss, Cisal- 
pine and Ligurian republics. In its influence upon the 
future course of events this was the most important of all 
the stipulations. It gave to the political status of the 
Continent a definition, upon which Great Britain reckoned 
in her own treaty with France a few months later ; and 
its virtual violation by Bonaparte became ultimately both 
the reason and the excuse for her refusal to fulfil the en- 
gagements about Malta, which led to the renewal of the 
war and so finally to the downfall of Napoleon. 5. The 
German Empire was pledged to give to the princes dispos- 
sessed on the west of the Rhine, and in Italy, an indemnity 
within the empire itself. By this Prussia, which was 
among the losers, reaped through Bonaparte's influence 
an abundant recompense for the support already given to 
his policy in the North. This success induced her to con- 
tinue the same time-serving opportunism, until, when no 
longer necessary to France, she was thrown over with a 
rudeness that roused her to an isolated, and therefore 
speedily crushed resistance. 


Events of 1801. 

British Expedition to the Baltic — Battle of Copenhagen — 
Bonaparte's futile attempts to contest control of the 
Sea — His Continental Policy — Preliminaries of Peace 
with Great Britain, October, 1801 — Influence of Sea 
Power so far upon the Course of the Revolution. 

BY the peace of Luneville Great Britain was left alone, 
and for the moment against all Europe. The ministry 
met the emergency with vigor and firmness, though possibly 
with too much reliance upon diplomacy and too little upon 
the military genius of the great seaman whose services 
were at their disposal. Upon the Continent nothing could 
be effected, all resistance to France had been crushed by 
the genius of Bonaparte ; but time had to be gained for the 
expedition then under way against Egypt and destined to 
compel its evacuation by the French. The combination in 
the North also must be quickly dissolved, if the country 
were to treat on anything like equal terms. 

An armed negotiation with the Baltic powers, similar to 
that employed with Denmark the preceding August, was 
therefore determined ; and a fleet of eighteen sail-of-the-line 
with thirty-five smaller vessels was assembled at Yarmouth, 
on the east coast of England. Rapidity of movement was 
essential to secure the advantage from the ice, which, 
breaking up in the harbors less rapidly than in the open 
water, would delay the concentration of the hostile navies ; 
and also to allow the Baltic powers the least possible time 
to prepare for hostilities which they had scarcely antici- 


pated. Everything pointed to Nelson, the most energetic 
and daring of British admirals, for the chief command of an 
expedition in which so much depended upon the squadron, 
numerically inferior to the aggregate of forces arrayed 
against it, attacking separately each of the component parts 
before their junction ; but Nelson was still among the 
junior flag-officers, and the rather erratic manner in which, 
while- in the central Mediterranean and under the influence 
of Lady Hamilton, he had allowed his views of the political 
situation to affect his actions even in questions of military 
subordination, had probably excited in Earl Spencer, the 
First Lord, by whom the officers were selected, a distrust of 
his fitness for a charge requiring a certain delicacy of dis- 
cretion as well as vigor of action. Whatever the reason, 
withholding the chief command from him was unquestion- 
ably a mistake, — which would not have been made by St. 
Vincent, who succeeded Spencer a few weeks later upon the 
fall of the Pitt ministry. The conditions did not promise 
a pacific solution when the expedition was planned, and the 
prospect was even worse when it sailed. The instructions 
given to Sir Hyde Parker allowed Denmark forty-eight 
hours to accept Great Britain's terms and withdraw from 
her engagements with the other Powers. Whether she 
complied peaceably or not, after she was reduced to sub- 
mission the division of the Russian fleet at Revel was to be 
attacked, before the melting ice allowed it to join the main 
body in Cronstadt ; and Sweden was to be similarly dealt 
with. Under such orders diplomacy had a minor part to play, 
while in their directness and simplicity they were admira- 
bly suited to the fiery temper and prompt military action 
which distinguished Nelson ; and, but for the opportune 
death of Paul I., Great Britain might have had reason to 
regret that the opportunity to give Russia a severe reminder 
of her sea power was allowed to slip through the lax grasp 
of a sluggish admiral. 

The fleet sailed from Yarmouth on the 12th of March, 


1801 ; and on the 19th, although there had been some 
scattering in a heavy gale, nearly all were collected off the 
Skaw, the northern point of Jutland at the entrance of the 
Kattegat. The wind being north-west was fair for going 
to Copenhagen, and Nelson, if in command, would have 
advanced at once with the ambassador on board. " While 
the negotiation is going on," he said, " the Dane should see 
our flag waving every moment he lifted his head." As it 
was, the envoy went forward with a frigate alone and the 
fleet waited. On the 12th it was off Elsineur, where the 
envoy rejoined, Denmark having rejected the British terms. 

This amounted to an acceptance of hostilities, and it only 
remained to the commander-in-chief to act at once ; for the 
wind was favorable, an advantage which at any moment 
might be lost. On this day Nelson addressed Parker a 
letter, summing up in a luminous manner the features of 
the situation and the different methods of action. " Not a 
moment should be lost in attacking," he said ; " we shall 
never be so good a match for them as at this moment." 
He next hinted, what he had probably already said, that 
the fleet ought to have been off Copenhagen, and not at 
Elsineur, when the negotiation failed. " Then you might 
instantly attack and there would be scarcely a doubt but 
the Danish fleet would be destroyed, and the capital made 
so hot that Denmark would listen to reason and its true 
interest." Since, however, the mistake of losing so much 
time had been made, he seeks to stir his superior to lose no 
more. " Almost the safety, certainly the honor, of England 
is more entrusted to you than ever yet fell to the lot of any 
British officer ; . . . never did our country depend so much 
on the success of any fleet as of this." 

Having thus shown the necessity for celerity, Nelson 
next discussed the plan of operations. Copenhagen is on 
the east side of the island of Zealand, fronting the coast 
of Sweden, from which it is separated by the passage 
called the Sound. On the west the island is divided from 


the other parts of Denmark by the Great Belt. The navi- 
gation of the latter being much the more difficult, the 
preparations of the Danes had been made on the side of 
the Sound, and chiefly about Copenhagen itself. For half 
a mile from the shore in front of the city, flats extend, and 
in the Sound itself at a distance of little over a mile, is a 
long shoal called the Middle Ground. Between these two 
bodies of shallow water is a channel, called the King's, 
through which a fleet of heavy ships could sail, and from 
whose northern end a deep pocket stretches toward Copen- 
hagen, forming the harbor proper. The natural point of 
attack therefore appears to be at the north ; and there the 
Danes had erected powerful works, rising on piles out of 
the shoal water off the harbor's mouth and known as the 
Three-Crown Batteries. Nelson, however, pointed out 
that not only was this head of the line exceedingly strong, 
but that the wind that was fair to attack would be foul to 
return; therefore a disabled ship would have no escape 
but by passing through the King's Channel. Doing so 
she would have to run the gantlet of a line of armed 
hulks, which the Danes had established as floating bat- 
teries along the inner edge of the channel — covering the 
front of Copenhagen — and would also be separated from 
her fleet. Nor was this difficulty, which may be called 
tactical, the only objection to a plan that he disparaged as 
"taking the bull by the horns." He remarked that so 
long as the British fleet remained in the Sound, without 
entering the Baltic, the way was left open for both the 
Swedes and the Russians, if released by the ice, to make 
a junction with the Danes. Consequently, he advised 
that a sufficiently strong force of the lighter ships-of-the- 
line should pass outside the Middle Ground, despite the 
difficulties of navigation, which were not insuperable, and 
come up in rear of the city. There they would interpose 
between the Danes and their allies, and be in position to 
assail the weaker part of the hostile order. He offered 
himself to lead this detachment. 


APRIL 2,1801. 

WIND \ 5.S.E. . 























This whole letter of March 24, 1801, l possesses peculiar 
interest; for it shows with a rare particularity, elicited 
by the need he felt of arousing and convincing his supe- 
rior, Nelson's clear discernment of the decisive features 
of a military situation. The fame of this great admiral has 
depended less upon his conduct of campaigns than upon 
the renowned victories he won in the actual collision of 
fleet with fleet ; and even then has been mutilated by the 
obstinacy with which, despite the perfectly evident facts, 
men have persisted in seeing in them nothing but dash, — 
heart, not head. 2 Throughout his correspondence, it is 
true, there are frequent traces of the activity of his men- 
tal faculties and of the general accuracy of his military 
conclusions; but ordinarily it is from his actions that his 
reasonings and principles must be deduced. In the pres- 
ent case we have the views he held and the course he evi- 
dently would have pursued clearly formulated by himself ; 
and it cannot but be a subject of regret that the naval world 
should have lost so fine an illustration as he would there 
have given of the principles and conduct of naval warfare. 
He concluded his letter with a suggestion worthy of Napo- 

1 Nelson's Letters and Dispatches, vol. iv. p. 295. 

2 While this work was going through the press, the author was gratified 
to find in the life of the late distinguished admiral Sir William Parker an 
anecdote of Nelson, which, as showing the military ideas of that great sea- 
officer, is worth a dozen of the " go straight at them " stories which pass cur- 
rent as embodying his precepts. " Throughout the month of October, 1804, 
Toulon was frequently reconnoitred, and the frigates 'Phoebe' and 'Ama- 
zon ' were ordered to cruise together. Previous to their going away Lord 
Nelson gave to Captains Capel and Parker several injunctions, in case they 
should get an opportunity of attacking two of the French frigates, which now 
got under weigh more frequently. The principal one was that they should 
not each single out and attack an opponent, but ' that both should endeavor 
together to take one frigate ; if successful, chase the other ; but, if you do not 
take the second, still you have won a victory and your country will gain a 
frigate.' Then half laughing, and half snappishly, he said kindly to them as 
he wished them good-by, ' I daresay you consider yourselves a couple of fine 
fellows, and when you get away from me will do nothing of the sort, but 
think yourselves wiser than I am ! ' " (" The Last of Nelson's Captains," by 
Admiral Sir Augustus Phillimore, K. C. P> , London, 1891, p. 122.) 


leon himself, and which, if adopted, would have brought 
down the Baltic Confederacy with a crash that would have 
resounded throughout Europe. " Supposing us through 
the Belt with the wind first westerly, would it not be pos- 
sible to go with the fleet, or detach ten ships of three and 
two decks, with one bomb and two fire-ships, to Revel, to 
destroy the Russian squadron at that place ? I do not see 
the great risk of such a detachment, and with the remain- 
der to attempt the business at Copenhagen. The measure 
may be thought bold, but I am of opinion the boldest are 
the safest; and our country demands a most vigorous 
exertion of her force, directed with judgment. " 

Committed as the Danes were to a stationary defence, 
this recommendation to strike at the soul of the confeder- 
acy evinced the clearest perception of the key to the situa- 
tion, which Nelson himself summed up in the following 
words : " I look upon the Northern League to be like a 
tree, of which Paul was the trunk and Sweden and Den- 
mark the branches. If I can get at the trunk and hew it 
down, the branches fall of course; but I may lop the 
branches and yet not be able to fell the tree, and my 
power must be weaker when its greatest strength is re- 
quired " ] — that is, the Russians should have been attacked 
before the fleet was weakened, as it inevitably must be, 
by the battle with the Danes. " If we could have cut up 
the Russian fleet," he said again, "that was my object. " 
Whatever Denmark's wishes about fighting, she was by 
her continental possessions tied to the policy of Russia 
and Prussia, either of whom could overwhelm her by land. 
She dared not disregard them. The course of both de- 
pended upon the czar ; for the temporizing policy of Prus- 
sia would at once embrace his withdrawal from the league 
as an excuse for doing the same. At Revel were twelve 
Russian ships-of-the-line, fully half their Baltic fleet, 

1 Nels. Disp., vol. iv p. 355. See also a very emphatic statement of his 
views on the campaign, in a letter to Mr. Vansittart, p. 367. 


whose destruction would have paralyzed the remainder 
and the naval power of the empire. To persuade Parker 
to such a step was, however, hopeless. " Our fleet would 
never have acted against Russia and Sweden," wrote Nel- 
son afterwards, "although Copenhagen would have been 
burned ; for Sir Hyde Parker was determined not to leave 
Denmark hostile in his rear;" 1 a reason whose technical 
accuracy under all the circumstances was nothing short 
of pedantic, and illustrates the immense distance between 
a good and accomplished officer, which Parker was, and a 
genius whose comprehension of rules serves only to guide, 
not to fetter, his judgment. 

Although unable to rise equal to the great opportunity 
indicated by Nelson, Sir Hyde Parker adopted his sugges- 
tion as to the method and direction of the principal attack 
upon the defences of Copenhagen. For this, Nelson asked 
ten ships-of-the-line and a number of smaller vessels, with 
which he undertook to destroy the floating batteries cover- 
ing the front of the city. These being reduced, the bomb 
vessels could be placed so as to play with effect upon the 
dock-yard, arsenals, and the town, in case further resist- 
ance was made. 

The nights of the 30th and 31st of March were employed 
sounding the channel. On the first of April the fleet 
moved up to the north end of the Middle Ground, about 
four miles from the city; and that afternoon Nelson's 
division, to which Parker had assigned two ships-of-the- 
line more than had been asked — or twelve altogether — 
got under way, passed through the outer channel and an- 
chored towards sundown off the south-east end of the 
shoal, two miles from the head 2 of the Danish line. 
Nelson announced his purpose to attack as soon as the 
wind served ; and the night was passed by him in arrang- 
ing the order of battle. The enterprise was perilous, not 

1 Nelson's Disp., April 9, 1801, vol iv pp. 339 and 341. 

2 The Danes were moored with their heads to the southward. 


on account of the force to be engaged, but because of the 
great difficulties of navigation. The pilots were mostly 
mates of merchantmen trading with the Baltic ; and their 
experience in vessels of three or four hundred tons did 
not fit them for the charge of heavy battle-ships. They 
betrayed throughout great indecision, and their imperfect 
knowledge contributed to the principal mishaps of the 
day, as well as to a comparative incompleteness in the 
results of victory. 

The next morning the wind came fair at south-south- 
east, and at eight a. m. the British captains were sum- 
moned to the flag-ship for their final instructions. The 
Danish line to be attacked extended in a north-west and 
south-east direction for somewhat over a mile. It was 
composed of hulks and floating batteries, eighteen to 
twenty in number and mounting 628 guns, of which about 
375 would — fighting thus at anchor — be on the engaged 
side. The southern flank now to be assailed was partly 
supported by works on shore ; but from the intervening 
shoal water these were too distant for thoroughly efficient 
fire. Being thus distinctly weaker than the northern ex- 
tremity, which was covered by the Three-Crown Battery 
and a second line of heavy ships, this southern end was 
most properly chosen by the British as the point of their 
chief assault for tactical reasons, independently of the 
strategic advantage urged by Nelson in thus interposing 
between the enemy and his allies. At half-past nine sig- 
nal was made to weigh. The ships were soon under sail ; 
but the difficulties of pilotage, despite careful soundings 
made during the night by an experienced naval captain, 
were soon apparent. The "Agamemnon," of sixty -four 
guns, was unable to weather the point of the Middle 
Ground, and had to anchor out of range. She had no 
share in the battle. The "Bellona" and "Russell," sev- 
enty-fours, the fourth and fifth in the order, entered the 
Channel ; but keeping too far to the eastward they ran ashore 


on its farther side — upon the Middle Ground. They were 
not out of action, but beyond the range of the most efficient 
gunnery under the conditions of that period. Nelson's flag- 
ship following them passed clear, as did the rest of the 
heavy ships; but the loss of these three out of the line 
prevented by so much its extension to the northward. 
The result was to expose that part of the British order to 
a weight of fire quite disproportioned to its strength. A 
body of frigates very gallantly undertook to fill the gap, 
which they could do but inadequately, and suffered heavy 
loss in attempting. 

The battle was at its height at half -past eleven. There 
was then no more manoeuvring, but the simple question 
of efficient gunnery and endurance. At about two p. m. a 
great part of the Danish line had ceased to fire, and the 
flag-ship "Dannebrog" was in flames. During the action 
the Danish crews were frequently re-enforced from the 
shore ; and the new-comers in several cases, reaching the 
ships after they had struck, renewed the fight, either 
through ignorance or indifference to the fact. The land 
batteries also fired on boats trying to take possession. 
Nelson seized on this circumstance to bring the affair to 
a conclusion. He wrote a letter addressed "To the 
brothers of Englishmen, the Danes," and sent it under 
flag of truce to the Crown Prince, who was in the city. 
"Lord Nelson has directions to spare Denmark when no 
longer resisting; but if the firing is continued on the part 
of Denmark, Lord Nelson will be obliged to set on fire all 
the floating batteries he has taken, without having the 
power of saving the brave Danes who have defended 
them. " The letter was sent on shore by a British officer 
who had served in the Russian navy and spoke Danish. 
The engagement continued until about three p. m., when 
the whole line of floating defences south-east of the Crown 
Batteries had either struck or been destroyed. 

The fortifications were still unharmed, as were the ships 

VOL. IT. — 4 


west of them covering the harbor proper; but their fire 
was stopped by the bearer of a flag of truce who was 
bringing to Nelson the reply of the Crown Prince. The 
latter demanded the precise purport of the first message. 
Nelson took a high hand. He had destroyed the part of 
the enemy's line which he had attacked; but it was im- 
portant now to withdraw his crippled ships, and with the 
existing wind that could only be done by passing the 
Crown Batteries. Had the three that ran aground been 
in the line, it is permissible to believe that that work 
would have been so far injured as to be practically harm- 
less ; but this was far from the case. The admiral in his 
second letter politicly ignored this feature of the situa- 
tion. He wrote, "Lord Nelson's object in sending on 
shore a flag of truce is humanity ; 1 he therefore consents 
that hostilities shall cease till Lord Nelson can take his 
prisoners out of the prizes, and he consents to land all the 
wounded Danes and to burn or remove his prizes. Lord 
Nelson, with humble duty to His Royal Highness, begs 
leave to say that he will ever esteem it the greatest vic- 
tory he ever gained, if this flag of truce may be the happy 
forerunner of a lasting and happy union between my most 
gracious Sovereign and His Majesty the King of Den- 
mark." Having written the letter, he referred the bearer 
for definite action to Sir Hyde Parker, who lay some four 
miles off in the " London ; " foreseeing that the long pull 
there and back would give time for the leading ships, 
which were much crippled, to clear the shoals, though 
their course for so doing lay close under the Crown Bat- 
teries. Thus the exposed part of the British fleet was 

1 If Nelson had an arriere pense'e in sending the flag, he never admitted 
it, before or after, to friend or foe. " Many of my friends," he wrote a month 
after the battle, " thought it a ruse de guerre and not quite justifiable. Very 
few attribute it to the cause that I felt, and which I trust in God I shall retain 
to the last moment, — humanity." He then enlarges upon the situation, and 
says that the wounded Danes in the prizes were receiving half the shot fired 
by the shore batteries. (Nels. Disp., vol. iv., p. 360.) 


successfully removed from a dangerous position and re- 
joined Parker north of the Middle Ground. The advan- 
tage obtained by Nelson's presence of mind and promptness 
in gaining this respite was shown by the difficulties at- 
tending the withdrawal. Three out of five ships-of-the- 
line grounded, two of which remained fast for several 
hours a mile from the batteries, but protected by the 

The result of the battle of Copenhagen was to uncover 
the front of the city and lay it, with its dockyards and 
arsenals, open to bombardment. It was now safe to place 
the bomb vessels in the King's Channel. It became a 
question for Denmark to decide, whether fear of her power- 
ful allies and zeal for the claims of neutrals should lead 
her to undergo further punishment, or whether the suffer- 
ing already endured and the -danger still threatening were 
excuse sufficient for abandoning the coalition. On the 
other hand, Nelson, who was the brains as well as the 
backbone of the British power in the North, cared little, 
either now or before the battle, about the attitude of Den- 
mark, except as it deterred Parker from advancing. Now, 
as before, his one idea was to get at the Russian division 
still locked in Revel by the ice. The negotiations were 
carried on by him and resulted in an armistice for four- 
teen weeks, after which hostilities could be resumed upon 
fourteen days' notice. Thus was assured to Parker for 
four months the entire immunity he desired for his com- 
munications. Fear of Russia long deterred the Danes 
from this concession, which Nelson frankly told them he 
must have, so as to be at liberty to act against the Russian 
fleet and return to them ; and he made it the indispensa- 
ble requisite to sparing the city. During the discussions, 
however, the Crown Prince received news of the czar's 
death. Paul I. had been murdered by a body of conspira- 
tors on the night of March 24. The Danish government 
concealed the tidings ; but the departure of the soul of the 


confederacy relieved their worst fears and encouraged 
them to yield to Nelson's demands. 

Denmark's part in the Armed Neutrality was suspended 
during the continuance of the armistice ; but the British 
ministers showed as little appreciation of the military 
situation as did their commander-in-chief in the Baltic. 
"Upon a consideration of all the circumstances," they 
wrote to Nelson, 1 "His Majesty has thought fit to approve 
the armistice." Nelson was naturally and justly indig- 
nant at this absurdly inadequate understanding of the 
true nature of services, concerning whose military charac- 
ter a French naval critic has truly said that " they will 
always be in the eyes of seamen his fairest title to glory. 
He alone was capable of displaying such boldness and 
perseverance; he alone could confront the immense diffi- 
culties of that enterprise and overcome them." 2 But his 
conduct at Copenhagen, brilliant as was the display of 
energy, of daring and of endurance, was far from exhaust- 
ing the merits of his Baltic campaign. He had lifted and 
carried on his shoulders the dead weight of his superior, 
he had clearly read the political as well as the military 
situation, and he never for one moment lost sight of the 
key to both. To bombard Copenhagen was to his mind 
a useless piece of vandalism, which would embitter a na- 
tion that ought to be conciliated, and destroy the only hold 
Great Britain still had over Denmark. 3 Except for the 
necessity of managing his lethargic and cautious com- 
mander-in-chief, we may believe he would never have 
contemplated it ; but under the circumstances he used the 
threat as the one means by which he could extort truce 
from Denmark and induce Parker to move. With the 
latter to handle, the armistice slipped the knot of the 

1 April 20, 1801. Nels. Disp., vol. iv. p. 355, note. 

2 Jurien de la Graviere, Guerres Maritimes, vol. ii. p. 43, 1st edition. 

3 Having destroyed Copenhagen, we had done our worst, and not much 
nearer being friends. — Nels. Disp., vol. iv. p. 361. 


military difficulty ; it was the one important point, along- 
side which every other fell into insignificance. " My ob- 
ject," he said, "was to get at Revel before the frost broke 
up at Cronstadt, that the twelve sail-of-the-line might be 
destroyed." Well might St. Vincent write, "Your Lord- 
ship's whole conduct, from your first appointment to this 
hour, is the subject of our constant admiration. It does 
not become me to make comparisons ; all agree there is 
but one Nelson." 

Meantime, while the British fleet had been dallying in 
the approaches to the Baltic, important events had oc- 
curred, furthering the projects of Bonaparte in the North 
and seriously complicating the position of Great Britain. 
No formal declaration of war was at any time issued by 
the latter country; but its government had not unjustly 
regarded as an act of direct hostility the combination of 
Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia, to support the czar in a 
course first undertaken to assure his claim upon Malta, 
and in furtherance of which he had seized as pledges three 
hundred British merchant vessels with their crews. * As 
an offset to the British interests thus foreclosed upon by 
Russia, and to negotiate upon somewhat equal terms, the 
government, on the 14th of January, 1801, ordered an em- 
bargo laid upon Russian, Danish, and Swedish vessels in 
British ports, and the seizure of merchant ships of these 
powers at sea. Of four hundred and fifty Swedish vessels 
then abroad, two hundred were detained or brought into 
British harbors. They were not, however, condemned as 
prizes, but held inviolable to await the issue of the exist- 

1 The second embargo was laid on Nov. 7, 1800, for the sole purpose of 
enforcing the surrender of Malta to Russia. (Annual Register, 1800; State 
Tapers, p. 253.) It antedated by six weeks the declaration of Armed Neu- 
trality, by which the other powers, on the plea of neutral rights, agreed to 
arm. (Ibid., p. 260.) In fact, the other powers urged upon Great Britain that 
the Russian sequestration being on account of Malta, they had no share in it, 
and so were not subjects for retaliation; ignoring that they had chosen that 
moment to come to Russia's support. 


ing difficulties. To the remonstrances of Sweden and 
Denmark, supported by Prussia, the British ministry re- 
plied definitely, on the 7th of March, that the embargo 
would not be revoked so long as the Powers affected " con- 
tinued to form part of a confederacy which had for its 
object to impose by force on his Majesty a new system of 
maritime law, inconsistent with the dignity and independ- 
ence of his crown, and the rights and interests of his 
people. " * In consequence of this and of the entrance of 
the Sound by Parker's fleet, Prussia, on the 30th of March, 
and as a measure of retaliation, closed the mouths of the 
Elbe, the Weser, and the Ems — in other words, the ports 
of North Germany — against British commerce, and took 
possession of the German states belonging to the king of 
Great Britain. On the same day a corps of Danish troops 
occupied Hamburg, more certainly to stop British trade 

Thus Bonaparte's conception was completely realized. 
There was not only a naval combination against Great 
Britain, but also an exclusion of her trade from one of 
its chief markets. The danger, however, was much less 
than it seemed. On the one hand, while the annoyances 
to neutral navigation were indisputable, the advantages it 
drew from the war were far greater; its interests really 
demanded peace, even at the price set by Great Britain. 
On the other hand, the more important claims of the great 
Sea Power, however judged by standards of natural right, 
had prescription on their side ; and in the case of contra- 
band, whatever may be thought of classifying naval stores 
as such, there was for it a colorable pretext in the fact 
that France then had no merchant shipping, except 
coasters ; that naval stores entering her ports were almost 
certainly for ships of war ; and that it was in part to the 
exclusion of such articles that Great Britain owed the 
maritime supremacy, which alone among armed forces had 

1 Annual Register, 1801 ; State Papers, p. 246. 


successfully defied Bonaparte. In short, the interest of 
the Northern states was to yield the points in dispute, 
while that of Great Britain was not to yield ; a truth not 
only asserted by the ministry but conceded in the main 
by the opposition. There needed therefore only to throw 
a little weight into one scale, or to take a little from the 
other, to turn the balance ; while the coalition would dis- 
solve entirely either upon decisive naval operations by 
Great Britain, or upon the death of Paul I. The czar 
was the only person embarked heart and soul in the Nor- 
thern quarrel, because the only one deaf to the call of 
clear interest. Herein is apparent the crying mistake of 
intrusting the conduct of the naval campaign to another 
than Nelson. The time placidly consumed by Parker in 
deliberations and talking would have sufficed his lieuten- 
ant to scour the Baltic, to destroy the Russians at Revel 
as he did the Danish line at Copenhagen, and to convince 
the neutral states of the hopelessness of the struggle. 
Fortunately for Great Britain, the interests of Russian 
proprietors, which were bound up with British commerce, 
and hardly yielded eight years later to restrictions im- 
posed by the popular Alexander I., rebelled against the 
measures of a ruler whose insanity was no longer doubt- 
ful. The murder of Paul opened the way for peace. 

Among the first measures of the new czar was the re- 
lease of the British seamen imprisoned by his father. 
This order was dated April 7. On the 12th the British 
ships entered the Baltic, — much to the surprise of the 
Northern Powers, who thought their heavy draught would 
prevent. The three-deckers had to remove their guns to 
pass some shoal ground ten miles above Copenhagen. 
After an excursion to intercept a Swedish fleet said to be 
at sea, Parker anchored his ships in Kioge Bay, — off the 
coast of Zealand just within the entrance to the Baltic, — 
and there awaited further instructions from home; the 
Russian minister at Copenhagen having informed him 


that the new czar would not go to war. 1 Nelson entirely 
disapproved of this inactive attitude. Russia might yield 
the conditions of Great Britain, but she would be more 
likely to do so if the British fleet lay off the harbor of 
Revel. This seems also to have been the view of the 
ministry. It received news of the battle of Copenhagen 
on April 15, and at about the same date learned the death 
of Paul I. Advantage was very properly taken of the 
latter to adopt a policy of conciliation. On the 17th 
orders were issued to Parker modifying his first instruc- 
tions. If Alexander removed the embargo and released 
the seamen, all hostile movements were to be suspended. 
If not, a cessation of hostilities was to be offered, if Rus- 
sia were willing to treat; but upon condition that, until 
these ships and men were released, the Revel division should 
not join that in Cronstadt, nor vice versa. 2 This presumed 
a position of the British fleet very different from Kioge 
Bay, over four hundred miles from Revel. 

Four days later, orders were issued relieving Parker and 
leaving Nelson in command. Taken as this step was, only 
a week after the news of a victory, it can scarcely be con- 
strued otherwise than as an implied censure. To this 
view an expression of Nelson's lends color. " They are 
not Sir Hyde Parker's real friends who wish for an in- 
quiry, " he wrote to a confidential correspondent. "His 
friends in the fleet wish everything of this fleet to be for- 
got, for we all respect and love Sir Hyde; but the dearer 
his friends, the more uneasy they have been at his idleness, 
for that is the truth — no criminality. " 3 The orders were 
received on May 5. Nelson's first signal was to hoist the 
boats aboard and prepare to weigh. "If Sir Hyde were 
gone," he wrote the same afternoon, "I would now be 
under sail. " On the 7th the fleet left Kioge Bay and on 
the 12th appeared off Revel. The Russian division had 

1 Nels. Disp., vol. iv., pp. 349, 3Z l i. 

2 Ibid., p. 349 ; also see p. 379. 3 Ibid., vol. iv. p. 416. 


sailed three days before and was now safe under the guns 
of Cronstadt. From Revel Nelson dispatched very com- 
plimentary letters to the Russian minister of foreign 
affairs, but received in reply the message that "the only 
proof of the loyalty of his intentions that the czar could 
accept was the prompt withdrawal of his fleet; and that 
until then no negotiation could proceed." "I do not be- 
lieve he would have written such a letter," said Nelson, 
" if the Russian fleet had been in Revel ; " 1 but the bird 
was flown, and with a civil explanation he withdrew from 
the port. He still remained in the Baltic, awaiting the 
issue of the negotiations ; but Russia meant peace, and on 
the 17th of May the czar ordered the release of the em- 
bargoed British ships. On the 4th of June Great Britain 
also released the Danes and Swedes detained in her ports. 
Russia and Prussia had already agreed, on the 27th of 
April, that hostile measures against England should 
cease, Hamburg and Hanover be evacuated, and the free 
navigation of the rivers restored. 

On the 17th of June was signed at St. Petersburg a con- 
vention between Russia and Great Britain, settling the 
points that had been in dispute. The question of Malta 
was tacitly dropped. As regards neutral claims Russia 
conceded that the neutral flag should not cover enemy's 
goods ; and while she obtained the formal admission that 
articles of hostile origin which had become bond fide neutral 
property were exempt from seizure, she yielded the very 
important exception of colonial produce. This, no matter 
who the owner, could not by a neutral be carried direct 
from the colony to the mother country of a nation at war. 2 
Great Britain, on the other hand, conceded the right of 
neutrals to carry on the coasting trade of a belligerent; 

1 Nels. Disp., vol. iv. p. 373. 

2 For the important bearings of this stipulation, which was made as an 
additional and explanatory declaration to the main convention (Annual 
Register, 1801 ; State Papers, p. 217), see post, Chapter XVI. It was a matter 
in which Russia, not being a carrier, had no interest. 


and that naval stores should not be classed as contraband 
of war. The latter was an important concession, the 
former probably not, coasting trade being ordinarily done 
by small craft especially adapted to the local conditions. 
As regards searching merchant vessels under convoy of a 
ship of war, Russia yielded the principle and Great Britain 
accepted methods which would make the process less 
offensive. Privateers in such case could not search. The 
question was unimportant ; for neutral merchant ships will 
not lightly submit to the restraint and delays of convoy, 
and so lose the chief advantage, that of speed, which they 
have over belligerents. When a neutral sees necessary to 
convoy her merchantmen, the very fact shows relations 
already strained. 

Sweden and Denmark necessarily followed the course 
of Russia and acceded to all the terms of the convention 
between that court and Great Britain ; Sweden on the 23d 
of October, 1801, and Denmark on the 30th of the fol- 
lowing March. The claim to carry colonial produce to 
Europe, thus abandoned, was of importance to them, though 
not to Russia. At the same time the Baltic states renewed 
among themselves the engagements, which they had re- 
linquished in their convention with Great Britain, that the 
neutral flag should cover enemy's property on board and 
that the convoy of a ship of war should exempt merchant 
vessels from search. These principles were in point of fact 
modifications sought to be introduced into international 
law, and not prescriptive rights, as commonly implied by 
French historians 1 dealing with this question. For this 
reason both the United States and the Baltic powers, while 
favoring the new rule, were little disposed to attempt by 
arms to compel the surrender by Great Britain of a claim 
sanctioned by long custom. 

Thus had fallen resultless, as far as the objects of the 
first consul were concerned, the vast combination against 

1 For instance, Thiers, H. Martin, and Lanfrey. 


Great Britain which he had fostered in the Nor'h. During 
its short existence he had actively pursued in the south 
of Europe, against Naples and Portugal, other measures 
intended further to embarrass, isolate, and cripple the great 
Sea Power, and to facilitate throwing much needed supplies 
and re-enforcements into Egypt. " The ambassador of the 
republic," he wrote in February, 1801, " will make the 
Spanish ministry understand that we must at whatsoever 
cost become masters of the Mediterranean. . . . France 
will have fifteen ships-of-the-line in the Mediterranean 
before the equinox ; and, if Spain will join to them fifteen 
others, the English, who are about to have the ports of 
Lisbon, Sicily, and Naples closed to them, will not be able 
to keep thirty ships in the Mediterranean. That being so, 
I doubt not they will evacuate Mahon, being unable to 
remain in that sea." 1 

For the closure of the ports Bonaparte relied with good 
reason upon his armies ; but in the concurrent expectation 
of uniting thirty French and Spanish ships he reckoned 
without his host, as he did also upon the Russian Black 
Sea fleet, and the numbers the British must keep in the 
Baltic and off Brest. After the armistice with Austria in 
Italy, a corps under Murat was pushed toward Naples ; 
and on the same day that the treaty of Luneville was con- 
cluded, February 9, a truce for thirty days was signed 
with the Two Sicilies. This was followed on the 28th of 
March by a definitive treaty of peace. Naples engaged to 
exclude from all her ports, including those of Sicily, the 
ships both of war and commerce belonging to Great Britain 
and Turkey ; while those of France and her allies, as well 
as of the Northern powers, should have free access. She 
also suffered some slight territorial loss ; but the most 
significant article was kept secret. The boot of Italy was 
to be occupied by a division of twelve or fifteen thousand 
French, whom Naples was to pay and support, and to whom 

1 Corr. de Nap. vol. vii. p. 25. 


were to be delivered all the maritime fortresses south of 
the river Ofanto and east of the Bradano, including the 
ports of Taranto and Brindisi. " This occupation," wrote 
Bonaparte to his war-minister, " is only in order to facili- 
tate the communications of the army of Egypt with 
France." 1 The Neapolitan ports became a refuge for 
French squadrons ; while the army of occupation stood ready 
to embark, if any body of ships found their way to those 
shores. Unfortunately, the combined British and Turkish 
armies had already landed in Egypt, and had won the 
battle of Alexandria a week before the treaty with Naples 
was signed. As a speedy result the French in Egypt were 
divided ; part being forced back upon Cairo and part shut 
up in Alexandria, — while the fleet of Admiral Keith 
cruised off the coast. 

No French squadron succeeded in carrying to Egypt the 
desired re-enforcements, notwithstanding the numerous 
efforts made by the first consul. The failure arose from 
two causes : the penury of the French arsenals, and the 
difficulty of a large body of ships escaping together, or of 
several small bodies effecting a combination, in face of the 
watchfulness of the British. Both troubles were due 
mainly to the rigid and methodical system introduced 
by Earl St. Vincent ; who, fortunately for Great Britain, 
assumed command of the Channel fleet at the same time 
that Bonaparte sought to impress upon the French navy a 
more sagacious direction and greater energy of action. 
His instructions to Admiral Bruix in February, 1800, 2 were 
to sail from Brest with over thirty French and Spanish 
sail-of-the-line, to drive the British blockaders from before 
the port, to relieve Malta, send a light squadron to Egypt, 

1 Corr. de Nap. vol. vii. p. 47. 

2 For full particulars of Bonaparte's views for the ships in Brest, which 
then contained the large body of Spaniards brought back by Bruix the 
previous August, see Corr. de Nap. vol. vi. pp. 181, 186. It must be 
remembered that there was then practically no French line-of-battle force in 
the Mediterranean. 


and then bring his fleet to Toulon, where it would be 
favorably placed to control the Mediterranean. Delay 
ensuing, owing to lack of supplies and the unwillingness of 
the Spaniards, he wrote again at the end of March, " If the 
equinox passes without the British fleet dispersing, then, 
great as is our interest in raising the blockade of Malta 
and carrying help to Egypt, they must be abandoned ;" * and 
throughout the summer months he confined his action to 
the unremitting efforts, already noticed, to keep a stream of 
small vessels constantly moving towards Egypt. 

After the autumn equinox Bonaparte again prepared for 
a grand naval operation. Admiral Ganteaume was detailed 
to sail from Brest with seven ships-of-the-line, carrying 
besides their crews four thousand troops and an immense 
amount of material. " Admiral Ganteaume," wrote he to 
Menou, commander-in-chief in Egypt, " brings to your army 
the succor we have not before been able to send. He will 
hand you this letter." The letter was dated October 29, 
1800, but it never reached its destination. Ganteaume 
could not get out from Brest till nearly three months later, 
when, on January 23d, 1801, a terrible north-east gale drove 
off the British squadron and enabled him to put to sea. 
" A great imprudence," says Thiers, " but what could be 
done in presence of an enemy's fleet which incessantly 
blockaded Brest in all weathers, and only retired when 
cruising became impossible. It was necessary either never 
to go out, or to do so in a tempest which should remove 
the British squadron." The incident of the sortie, as well 
as Ganteaume's subsequent experiences, illustrates pre- 
cisely the deterrent effect exercised by St. Vincent's 
blockades. 2 They could not prevent occasional escapes, 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. vi. pp. 262, 263. 

2 The advantage of the close watch is also shown by the perplexity arising 
when an enemy's squadron did escape. In this case, seven ships-of-the-line 
were detached from the Channel fleet in chase of Ganteaume, but "owing to 
lack of information" they were sent to the West Indies instead of the 
Mediterranean. (James, vol. iii. p. 73.) The latter was sufficiently con- 


but they did throw obstacles nearly insuperable in the way 
of combining and executing any of the major operations of 
Avar. Owing to the weather which had to be chosen for 
starting, the squadron was at once dispersed and underwent 
considerable damage. 1 It was not all reunited till a week 
later. On the 9th of February it passed Gibraltar; but 
news of its escape had already reached the British admiral 
Warren cruising off Cadiz, who followed quickly, entering 
Gibraltar only twenty-hours after the French went by. 
On the 13th of January Ganteaume captured a British 
frigate, from which he learned that the Mediterranean fleet 
under Lord Keith was then convoying an army of fifteen 
thousand British troops against Egypt. He expected that 
Warren also would soon be after him, and the injuries re- 
ceived in the gale weighed upon his mind. Considering all 
the circumstances, he decided to abandon Egypt and go to 
Toulon. Warren remained cruising in the Mediterranean 
watching for the French admiral, who twice again started 
for his destination. The first time he was obliged to 
return by a collision between two ships. The second, an 
outbreak of disease compelled him to send back three of 
the squadron. The other four reached the African coast 
some distance west of Alexandria, where they undertook 
to land the troops ; but Keith's fleet appeared on the 
horizon, and, cutting their cables, they made a hasty re- 
treat, without having effected their object. 

Similar misfortune attended Bonaparte's attempt to col- 
lect an efficient force in Cadiz, where Spain had been in- 
duced or compelled to yield to him six ships-of-the-line, and 
where she herself had some vessels. To these he intended 
to send a large detachment from Rochefort under Admiral 
Bruix, who was to command the whole, when combined. 
To concentrations at any point, however, British squadrons 

trolled by Keith with seven sail of-the-line in the Levant, and Warren with 
five before Cadiz, to which he joined two more at Minorca. 
1 See ante, vol. i. p. G8, for particulars. 


before the ports whence the divisions were to sail imposed 
obstacles, which, even if occasionally evaded, were fatal to 
the final great design. The advantage of the central posi- 
tion was consistently realized. On the other hand, where 
a great number of ships happened to be together, as at 
Brest in 1801, the want of supplies, caused by the same 
close watch and by the seizure of naval stores as contra- 
band, paralyzed their equipment. Finding himself baffled 
at Brest for these reasons, the first consul appointed 
Rochefort for the first concentration. When the second 
was effected at Cadiz, Bruix was to hold himself ready for 
further operations. If Egypt could not be directly assisted, 
it might be indirectly by harassing the British communica- 
tions. " Every day," wrote Bonaparte, " a hundred sails 
pass the straits under weak convoy, to supply Malta and the 
English fleet. " If this route were flanked at Cadiz, by a 
squadron like that of Bruix, much exertion would be needed 
to protect it. But the concentration at Rochefort failed, 
the ships from Brest could not get there, and the Rochefort 
ships themselves never sailed. 

Coincidently with this attempt, another effort was made 
to strengthen the force at Cadiz. 1 The three vessels sent 
back by Ganteaume, after his second sailing from Toulon, 
were also ordered to proceed there, under command of Rear 
Admiral Linois. Linois successfully reached the Straits of 
Gibraltar, but there learned from a prize that seven British 
ships were cruising off his destination. These had been 
sent with Admiral Saumarez from the Channel fleet, to 
replace Warren, when the admiralty learned the active 
preparations making in Cadiz and the French ports. Not 
venturing to proceed against so superior an enemy, Linois 

1 In the above the attempt has been merely to summarize the rapid suc- 
cession of events, and the orders issuing from Bonaparte's intensely active 
mind to meet the varying situations. Reference may be made by the student 
to his correspondence, vol. vi. pp. 719, 729, 745; vol. vii. pp. 4, 24-26, 69-73, 
125, 144, 164, 197, 198. 


put into Gibraltar Bay, anchoring on the Spanish side 
under the guns of Algesiras. Word was speedily sent to 
Saumarez ; and on July 6, two days after Linois anchored, 
six British ships were seen rounding the west point of the 
bay. They attacked at once; but the wind was baffling, 
they could not get their positions, and both flanks of the 
French line were supported by shore batteries, which were 
efficiently worked by soldiers landed from the squadron. 
The attack was repulsed, and one British seventy-four that 
grounded under a battery was forced to strike. Saumarez 
withdrew under Gibraltar and proceeded to refit ; the crews 
working all day and by watches at night to gain the oppor- 
tunity to revenge their defeat. Linois sent to Cadiz for the 
help he needed, and on the 10th five Spanish ships-of-the- 
line and one French J from there anchored off Algesiras. 
On the 12th they got under way with Linois's three, and at 
the same time Saumarez with his six hauled out from Gib- 
raltar. The allies retreated upon Cadiz, the British follow- 
ing. During the night the van of the pursuers brought the 
hostile rear to action, and a terrible scene ensued. A 
Spanish three-decker caught fire, and in the confusion was 
taken for an enemy by one of her own fleet of the same 
class. The two ships, of one hundred and twelve guns each 
and among the largest in the world, ran foul of each other 
and perished miserably in a common conflagration. The 
French " St. Antoine " was captured. 

The incident of Saumarez's meeting with Linois has a 
particular value, because of the repulse and disaster to the 
British vessels on the first occasion. Unvarying success 
accounts, or seems to account, for itself ; but in this case 
the advantage of the squadron's position before Cadiz tran- 
spires through a failure on the battle-field. To that posi- 
tion was due, first, that Linois's detachment could not make 
its junction ; second, that it was attacked separately and 
very severely handled ; third, that in the retreat to Cadiz the 

1 This ship, the " St. Antoine," was one of those ceded to France by Spain. 


three French ships were not in proper condition to engage, 
although one of them when brought to action made a very 
dogged resistance to, and escaped from, an inferior ship. 
Consequently, the six British that pursued had only six 
enemies instead of nine to encounter. After making allow- 
ance for the very superior quality of the British officers and 
crews over the Spanish, it is evident the distinguishing fea- 
ture in these operations was that the British squadron 
brought the enemies' divisions to action separately. It was 
able to do so because it had been kept before the hostile port, 
interposing between them. 

Saumarez had wrung success out of considerable diffi- 
culty. The failure of the wind greatly increased the dis- 
advantage to his vessels, coming under sail into action witli 
others already drawn up at anchor, and to whom the loss 
of spars for the moment meant little. These circumstances, 
added to the support of the French by land batteries and 
some gunboats, went far to neutralize tactically the superior 
numbers of the British. With all deductions, however, the 
fight at Algesiras was extremely creditable to Linois. He 
was a man not only distinguished for courage, but also of, 
a cautious temper peculiarly fitted to secure every advan- 
tage offered by a defensive position. Despite his success 
there, the broad result was decisively in favor of his op- 
ponents. " Sir James Saumarez's action," wrote Lord St. 
Vincent, " has put us upon velvet." Seven British had 
worsted nine enemy's ships, as distinctly superior, for the 
most part, in individual force as they were in numbers. 
Not only had the Spaniards three of ninety guns and over, 
and one of eighty, but two of Linois's were of the latter 
class, of which Saumarez had but one. The difference 
between such and the seventy-fours was not only in number 
of pieces, but in weight also. The substantial issue, how- 
ever, can be distinguished from the simple victory, and it 
was secured not only by superior efficiency but also by 
strategic disposition. 
vol. n. — 5 


Brilliant as was Saumarez's achievement, which Nelson, 
then in England, warmly extolled in the House of Lords, 
the claim made by his biographer, that to these operations 
alone was wholly due the defeat of Bonaparte's plan, is 
exaggerated. It was arranged, he says, that when the 
junction was made, the Cadiz ships should proceed off 
Lisbon, sack that place, and destroy British merchantmen 
lying there; "then, being re-enforced by the Brest fleet, 
they were to pass the Straits of Gibraltar, steer direct for 
Alexandria, and there land such a body of troops as would 
raise the siege and drive the English out of Egypt. This 
would certainly have succeeded had the squadron under 
Linois not encountered that of Sir James, which led to 
the total defeat of their combined fleets and to the aban- 
donment of the grand plan." 1 This might be allowed to 
stand as a harmless exhibition of a biographer's zeal, did 
it not tend to obscure the true lesson to be derived from 
this whole naval period, by attributing to a single en- 
counter, however brilliant, results due to an extensive, 
well-conceived general system. Sir James Saumarez's 
operations were but an epitome of an action going on every- 
where from the Baltic to Egypt, By this command of the 
sea the British fleets, after they had adopted the plan of 
close-watching the enemy's ports, held everywhere interior 
positions, which, by interposing between the hostile detach- 
ments, facilitated beating them in detail. For the most 
part this advantage of position resulted in quietly detain- 
ing the enemy in port, and so frustrating his combinations. 
It was Saumarez's good fortune to illustrate how it could 
also enable a compact body of highly disciplined ships 
to meet in rapid succession two parts of a force numeri- 
cally very superior, and by the injuries inflicted on each 
neutralize the whole for a definite time. But, had he never 
seen Linois, Bonaparte's plan still required the junctions 
from Rochefort and Brest which were never effected. 

1 Ross's Life of Saumarez, vol. ii. p. 21. 


By naval combinations and by holding the Neapolitan 
ports Bonaparte sought to preserve Egypt and force Great 
Britain to peace. " The question of maritime peace, " he 
wrote to Ganteaume, 1 " hangs now upon the English expe- 
dition to Egypt. " Portugal, the ancient ally of Great 
Britain, was designed to serve other purposes of his policy, 
— to furnish equivalents, with which to wrest from his chief 
enemy the conquests that the sea power of France and her 
allies could not touch. "Notify our minister at Madrid," 
wrote he to Talleyrand, September 30, 1800, "that the 
Spanish troops must be masters of Portugal before October 
15. This is the only means by which we can have an 
equivalent for Malta, Mahon, and Trinidad. Besides, 
the danger of Portugal will be keenly felt in England, 
and will by so much quicken her disposition to peace. ,, 

A secret treaty ceding Louisiana to France, in return 
for Tuscany to the Spanish infante, had been signed the 
month before ; and Spain at the same time undertook to 
bring Portugal to break with Great Britain. Solicitation 
proving ineffectual, Bonaparte in the spring again de- 
manded the stronger measure of an armed occupation of 
the little kingdom; growing more urgent as it became 
evident that Egypt was slipping from his grasp. Spain 
finally agreed to invade Portugal, and accepted the co- 
operation of a French corps. The first consul purposed 
to occupy at least three of the Portuguese provinces ; but 
he was outwitted by the adroitness of the Spanish govern- 
ment, unwillingly submissive to his pressure, and by the 
compliance of his brother Lucien, French minister to 
Madrid. Portugal made no efficient resistance ; and the 
two peninsular courts quickly reached an agreement, by 
which the weaker closed her ports to Great Britain, paid 
twenty million francs to France, and ceded a small strip 
of territory to Spain. 

Bonaparte was enraged at this treaty, which was rati- 

1 March 2, 1801. Corr. de Xap , vol. vii p. 72. 


fied without giving him a chance to interfere; 1 but in the 
summer of 1801 his diplomatic game reached a stage 
where further delay was impossible. He saw that the 
loss of Egypt was only a question of time ; but so long as 
any French troops held out there it was a card in his 
hand, too valuable to risk for the trifling gain of a foot- 
hold in Portugal. "The English are not masters of 
Egypt, " he writes boldly on the 23d of July to the French 
agent in London. " We have certain news that Alexan- 
dria can hold out a year, and Lord Hawkesbury knows 
that Egypt is in Alexandria ; " 2 but four days later he 
sends the hopeless message to Murat, " There is no longer 
any question of embarking " 3 the troops about Taranto, 
sent there for the sole purpose of being nearer to Egypt. 4 
He continues, in sharp contrast with his former expecta- 
tion, "The station of the troops upon the Adriatic i§ in- 
tended to impose upon the Turks and the English, and to 
serve as material for compensation to the latter by evacu- 
ating those provinces." Both Naples and Portugal were 
too distant, too ex-centric, and thrust too far into contact 
with the British dominion of the sea to be profitably, or 
even safely, held by France in her condition of naval 
debility; a truth abundantly witnessed by the later events 
of Napoleon's reign, by the disastrous occupation of Portu- 
gal in 1807, by the reverses of Soult and Massena in 1809 
and 1811, and by the failure even to attempt the conquest 
of Sicily. 

Russia and Prussia had grown less friendly since the 
death of Paul. Even their agreement that Hanover should 
be evacuated, disposed as they now were to please Great 
Britain, was to be postponed until "it was ascertained 
that a certain power would not occupy that country;" 5 

1 The treaty was signed June 6, and ratified June 16. (Ann. Reg. 1801 ; 
State Papers, p. 351.) Bonaparte received his copy June 15. (Corr. de Nap., 
vol. vii. p. 215 ) 

2 Corr. de Nap., vol. vii. p. 256. 8 Ihid., p. 266. 

4 See ante, p 60. & Ann. Reg. 1801 ; State Papers, p. 257. 

1801. 69 

a stipulation which betrayed the distrust felt by both. 
Since then each had experienced evasions and rebuffs 
showing the unwillingness of the first consul to meet their 
wishes in his treatment of the smaller states; and they 
suspected, although they did not yet certainly know, the 
steps already taken to incorporate with France regions to 
whose independence they held. 1 Both were responding to 
the call of their interests, beneficially and vitally con- 
nected with the sea power of Great Britain, and threat- 
ened on the Continent by the encroaching course of the 
French ruler. Bonaparte felt that the attempt to make 
further gains in Europe, with which to traffic against those 
of Great Britain abroad, might arouse resistance in these 
great powers, not yet exhausted like Austria, and so in- 
definitely postpone the maritime peace essential to the 
revival of the French navy and the re-establishment of the 
colonial system; both at this time objects of prime impor- 
tance in his eyes. Thus it was that, beginning the year 
1801 without a single ally, in face of the triumphant 
march of the French armies and of a formidable maritime 
combination, the Sea Power of Great Britain had dis- 
persed the Northern coalition, commanded the friendship 
of the great states, retained control of the Mediterranean, 

1 Paul I. had particularly held to the preservation of Naples and the resti- 
tution of Piedmont to the king of Sardinia. On April 12 the first consul heard 
of Paul's death, and the same day issued an order making Piedmont a military 
division of France. This was purposely antedated to April 2. (Corr. de Nap., 
vol. vii. p. 147.) Talleyrand was notified that this was a first, though tenta- 
tive, step to incorporation. If the Prussian minister remonstrated, he was to 
reply that France had not discussed the affairs of Italy with the king of 
Prussia. (Ibid., p. 153.) Alexander was civilly told that Paul's interest in the 
Italian princes was considered to be personal, not political. (Ibid., p. 169.) 
The Russian ambassador, however, a month later haughtily reminded Talley- 
rand that his mission depended upon the " kings of Sardinia and the Two 
Sicilirs being again put in possession of the states which they possessed before 
the irruption of the French troops into Italy." (Ann. Reg., 1801 ; State 
Papers, pp. 340-342 ) Liguria (Genoa) was also made a military division of 
France by order dated April 18. (Corr. de Nap., vol. vii. p. 162.) 


reduced Egypt to submission, and forced even the invinci- 
ble Bonaparte to wish a speedy cessation of hostilities. 

The great aim of the first consul now was to bring 
Great Britain to terms before news of the evacuation of 
Alexandria could come to hand. Negotiations had been 
slowly progressing for nearly six months; the first ad- 
vances having been made on the 21st of March by the new 
ministry which came into power upon Pitt's resignation. 
Both parties being inclined to peace, the advantage neces- 
sarily belonged to the man who, untrammelled by associ- 
ates in administration, held in absolute control the 
direction of his country. The Addington ministry, ham- 
pered by its own intrinsic weakness and by the eagerness 
of the nation, necessarily yielded before the iron will of 
one who was never more firm in outward bearing than in 
the most critical moments. He threatened them with the 
occupation of Hanover; he intimated great designs for 
which troops were embarked at Rochefort, Brest, Toulon, 
Cadiz, and ready to embark in Holland ; he boasted that 
Alexandria could hold out yet a year. Nevertheless, al- 
though the terms were incontestably more advantageous 
to France than to Great Britain, the government of the 
latter insisted upon and obtained one concession, that of 
Trinidad, which Bonaparte at first withheld. 1 His eager- 
ness to conclude was in truth as great as their own, 
though better concealed. Finally, he sent on the 17th of 
September an ultimatum, and added, "If preliminaries 
are not signed by the 10th of Vendemiaire (October 2), 
the negotiations will be broken." "You will appreciate 
the importance of this clause," he wrote confidentially to 
the French envoy, " when you reflect that Menou may pos- 
sibly not be able to hold in Alexandria beyond the first of 
Vendemiaire, that at this season the winds are fair to 

1 While refusing this in his instructions to the French negotiator, the lat- 
ter was informed he might yield it, if necessary. (Corr. de Nap., vol. vii., 
pp. 255-258.) 


come from Egypt, and ships reach Italy and Trieste in 
very few days. Thus it is essential to push them to a 
finish before Vendemiaire 10 ; " that is, before they learn 
the fall of Alexandria. The question of terms, as he had 
said before, hinged on Egypt. The envoy, however, was 
furnished with a different but plausible reason. " Otto 
can give them to understand that from our inferiority at 
sea and our superiority on land the campaign begins for 
us in winter, and therefore I do not wish to remain longer 
in this stagnation. " l Whatever motives influenced the 
British ministry, it is evident that Bonaparte was himself 
in a hurry for peace. The preliminaries were signed in 
London on the first of October, 1801. 

The conditions are easily stated. Of all her conquests, 
Great Britain retained only the islands of Ceylon in the 
East Indies and Trinidad in the West. How great this 
concession, will be realized by enumerating the chief 
territories thus restored to their former owners. These 
were, in the Mediterranean, Elba, Malta, Minorca; in 
the West Indies, Tobago, Santa Lucia, Martinique, and 
the extensive Dutch possessions in Guiana; in Africa, the 
Cape of Good Hope ; and in India, the French and Dutch 
stations in the peninsula. France consented to leave to 
Portugal her possessions entire, to withdraw her troops 
from the kingdom of Naples and the Roman territory, and 
to acknowledge the independence of the Republic of the 
Seven Islands. Under this name the former Venetian 
islands, Corfu and others — given to France by the treaty 
of Campo Formio — had, after their conquest in 1799 by 
the fleets of Russia and Turkey, been constituted into 
on independent state under the guarantee of those two 
powers. Their deliverance from France was considered 
an important security to the Turkish Empire. The ca- 
pitulation of the French troops in Alexandria was not yet 
known in England ; and the preliminaries merely stipu- 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. vii. p. 323. 


lated the return of Egypt to the Porte, whose dominions 
were to be preserved as they existed before the war. 
Malta, restored to the Knights of St. John, was to be 
freed from all French or British influence and placed 
under the guarantee of a third Power. Owing to the de- 
cay of the Order, the disposition of this important naval 
station, secretly coveted by both parties, was the most 
difficult matter to arrange satisfactorily. In the defini- 
tive treaty its status was sought to be secured by a cum- 
brous set of provisions, occupying one third of the entire 
text; and the final refusal of Great Britain to evacuate, 
until satisfaction was obtained for what she claimed to 
be violations of the spirit of the engagements between the 
two countries, became the test question upon which hinged 
the rupture of this short-lived peace. 

As the first article of the preliminaries stipulated that 
upon their ratification hostilities in all parts of the world, 
by sea and land, should cease, they were regarded in both 
Great Britain and France as equivalent to a definitive 
treaty ; the postponement of the latter being only to allow 
the negotiators time to settle the details of the intricate 
agreements, thus broadly outlined, without prolonging the 
sufferings of war. To France they could not but be ac- 
ceptable. She regained much, and gave up nothing that 
she could have held without undue and often useless exer- 
tion. In Great Britain the general joy was marred by 
the severe, yet accurate, condemnation passed upon the 
terms by a body of exceptionally able men, drawn mainly 
from the ranks of the Pitt cabinet, although their leader 
gave his own approval. They pointed out, clearly and 
indisputably, that the disparity between the material 
gains of Great Britain and France was enormous, dispro- 
portionate to their relative advantages at the time of sig- 
nature, and not to be reconciled with that security which 
had been the professed object of the struggle. They as- 
serted with little exaggeration that the conditions were 


for France to hold what she had, and for Great Britain to 
recede to her possessions before the war. They predicted 
with fatal accuracy the speedy renewal of hostilities, 
under the disadvantage of having lost by the peace impor- 
tant positions not easy to be regained. The ministry had 
little to reply. To this or that item of criticism exception 
might be taken; but in the main their defence was that 
by the failure of their allies no hope remained of contest- 
ing the power of France on the Continent, and that Trini- 
dad and Ceylon were very valuable acquisitions. Being 
insular, they were controlled by the nation ruling the sea, 
while, from their nearness to the mainlands of South Amer- 
ica and of India, they were important as depots of trade, as 
well as for strategic reasons. The most assuring argument 
was put forward by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who 
had negotiated the preliminaries. At the beginning of 
the war Great Britain had 135 ships-of-the-line and 133 
frigates; at its close she had 202 of the former and 277 of 
the latter. France had begun with 80 of the line and 66 
frigates, and ended with 39 and 35 respectively. How- 
ever the first consul might exert himself, Lord Hawkes- 
bury justly urged that the British might allow him many 
years labor and then be willing to chance a maritime war. 1 
Material advantages such as had thus been given up 
undoubtedly contribute to security. In surrendering as 
much as she did abroad, while France retained such ex- 
tensive gains upon the Continent and acquired there such 
a preponderating influence, Great Britain, which had so 
large a stake in the European commonwealth, undoubt- 
edly incurred a serious risk. The shortness of the peace, 
and the disquieting disputes which arose throughout it, 
sufficiently prove this. Nevertheless, could contempora- 
ries accurately read the signs of their times, Englishmen 
of that day need not have been dissatisfied with the general 
results of the war. A long stage had been successfully 

1 Parliamentary History, vol xxxvi. p. 47. 


traversed towards the final solution of a great difficulty. 
In 1792 the spirit of propagating revolution by violence 
had taken possession of the French nation as a whole. 
As Napoleon has strikingly remarked. " It was part of the 
political religion of the France of that day to make war 
in the name of principles. " x " The Montagnards and the 
Jacobins," says the republican historian Henri Martin, 
the bitter censurer of Bonaparte, " were resolved, like the 
Girondists, to propagate afar, by arms, the principles of 
the Revolution ; and they hoped, by hurling a defiance at 
all kings, to put France in the impossibility of recoiling 
or stopping herself. " 2 Such a design could be checked 
only by raising up against it a barrier of physical armed 
opposition. This had been effected and maintained chiefly 
by the Sea Power of Great Britain, the prime agent and 
moving spirit, directly through her navy, indirectly through 
the subsidies drawn from her commerce ; and the latter 
had nearly doubled while carrying on this arduous and 
extensive war. In 1801 the aggressive tendencies of the 
French nation, as a whole, were exhausted. So far as they 
still survived, they were now embodied in and dependent 
upon a single man, in which shape they were at once 
more distinctly to be recognized and more odious. They 
were also less dangerous ; because the power of one man, 
however eminent for genius, is far less for good or evil 
than the impulse of a great people. 

The British statesmen of that day did not clearly dis- 
tinguish this real nature of their gains, though they did 
intuitively discern the true character of the struggle in 
which they were engaged. As is not infrequent with in- 
tuitions, the reasoning by which they were supported was 
often faulty ; but Pitt's formulation of the objects of Great 
Britain in the one word " security " was substantially cor- 
rect. Security was her just and necessary aim, forced 

1 Commentaires de Napoleon, vol. iii. p. 377. 

2 Hist, de France depuis 1789, vol. i. p. 396. 


upon her by the circumstances of the Revolution, — secu- 
rity not for herself alone, but for the community of states 
of which she was an important member. This was threat- 
ened with anarchy through the lawless spirit with which 
the French leaders proposed to force the spread of princi- 
ples and methods, many of them good as well as many 
bad, but for whose healthful development were demanded 
both time and freedom of choice, which they in their im- 
patience were unwilling to give. "Security," said Pitt 
in his speech upon the preliminaries, " was our great object ; 
there were different means of accomplishing it, with better 
or worse prospects of success ; and according to the differ- 
ent variations of policy occasioned by a change of circum- 
stances, we still pursued our great object, Security. In 
order to obtain it we certainly did look for the subversion 
of that government founded upon revolutionary principles. 
. . . We have the satisfaction of knowing that we have 
survived the violence of the revolutionary fever, and we 
have seen the extent of its principles abated. We have 
seen Jacobinism deprived of its fascination; we have seen 
it stripped of the name and pretext of liberty ; it has shown 
itself to be capable only of destroying, not of building, and 
that it must necessarily end in a military despotism. " l 
Such, in truth, was the gain of the first war of Great Britain 
with the French Revolution. It was, however, but a stage 
in the progress; there remained still another, of warfare 
longer, more bitter, more furious,— a struggle for the 
mastery, whose end was not to be seen by the chief leaders 
of the one preceding it. 

i Speech of Nov. 3, 1801. 


Outline of Events from the Signature of the Prelimi- 
naries to the Rupture of the Peace of Amiens. 

October, 1801. — May, 1803. 

THE preliminaries of peace between Great Britain and 
France, signed on the first of October, 1801, were re- 
garded by both parties, at least ostensibly, as settling their 
relative status and acquisitions. In their broad outlines 
no change would be worked by the definitive treaty, des- 
tined merely to regulate details whose adjustment would 
demand time and so prolong the distress of war. This 
expectation, that the basis of a durable peace had been 
reached, proved delusive. A series of unpleasant surprises 
awaited first one party and then the other, producing in 
Great Britain a feeling of insecurity, which gave point and 
added vigor to the declamations of those who from the first 
had scoffed at the idea of any peace proving permanent, if 
it rested upon the good faith of the French government and 
surrendered those material guarantees which alone, they 
asserted, could curb the ambition and enforce the respect 
of a man like Bonaparte. Bitter indeed must have been 
the unspoken thoughts of the ministry, as the revolving 
months brought with them an unceasing succession of 
events which justified their opponents' prophecies while 
proving themselves to be outwitted ; and which, by the in- 
crease given to French influence and power in Europe, neces- 
sitated the maintenance of large military establishments, 
and converted the peace from first to last into a condition 
of armed truce. 


The day after the signature of the preliminaries news 
reached London x of the surrender of Alexandria, which 
completed the loss of Egypt by the French. It was believed 
that Bonaparte had, at the time of signing, possessed this 
information, which would have materially affected the 
footing upon which he was treating. However that was, 
he was undoubtedly assured of the issue, 2 and therefore 
precipitated a conclusion by which to France, and not to 
Great Britain, was attributed the gracious act of restoring 
its dominion to the Porte. Concealing the fact from the 
Turkish plenipotentiary in Paris, the French government 
on the 9th of October signed with him a treaty, by whicli 
it undertook to evacuate the province it no longer held. In 
return, Turkey conceded to France, her recent enemy, com- 
mercial privileges equal to those allowed Great Britain, to 
whose sea power alone she owed the recovery of Syria and 
Egypt. This bargain, concluded, without the knowledge of 
the British ministry, was not made public until after the 
ratification of the preliminaries. At the same time became 
known a treaty with Portugal, signed at Madrid on the 29th 
of September. By the preliminaries with Great Britain, 
Portuguese territory was to remain intact ; but by the treaty 
of Madrid so much of Brazil was added to French Guiana 
as to give the latter control of the northern outlet of the 

These events were surprises, and disagreeable surprises, 
to the British ministers. On the other hand, the existence 
of the secret treaty of March 21, 1801, by which Spain 
ceded to France the colony of Louisiana, was known to 
them, 3 though unavowed at the time of signing. While 
impressed with the importance of this transaction, follow- 
ing as it did the cession of the Spanish half of San Do- 
mingo, the ministry allowed the veil of mystery, with which 

1 Annual Register 1801, p. 280. 

2 See ante, p. 70. 

8 Am. State Papers, vol. ii. pp. 509, 511. 


Bonaparte had been pleased to shroud it, to remain un- 
lifted. The United States minister to London had procured 
and forwarded to his government on the 20th of November 
a copy of this treaty, 1 which so closely affected his fellow 
countrymen; but it was not until January, 1802, that the 
fact became generally known in England. Gloomy prophe- 
cies of French colonial aggrandizement were uttered by the 
partisans of the Opposition, who pictured the hereditary 
enemy of Great Britain planted by the Spanish treaty at 
the mouth of the great river of North America, and by the 
Portuguese at that of the artery of the southern continent ; 
while the vast and rich colonies of Spain, lying between 
these two extremes, would be controlled by the supremacy 
of France in the councils of the Peninsular courts. In a 
generation which still retained the convictions of the eigh- 
teenth century on the subject of colonial expansion, these 
predictions of evil struck heavily home, — enforced as they 
were by the knowledge that full one fourth of the trade 
which made the strength of Great Britain rested then upon 
that Caribbean America, into which France was now 
making a colossal intrusion. Faithful to the sagacious 
principle by which he ever proportioned the extent of his 
military preparation to the vastness of the end in view, the 
expedition sent by Bonaparte to reassert in Haiti the long 
dormant authority of the mother-country was calculated on 
a scale which aroused intense alarm in London. On the 
4th of December, 1801, only ten weeks after the prelim- 
inaries were signed, and long before the conclusion of the 
definitive treaty, fifteen ships-of-the-line and six frigates 
sailed from Brest for Haiti ; and these were rapidly fol- 
lowed by other divisions, so that the whole force dispatched 
much exceeded twenty ships-of-the-line, and carried over 
twenty thousand troops. The number was none too great 
for the arduous task, — indeed experience proved it to be 
far from adequate to meet the waste due to climatic causes ; 

1 Am. State Papers, vol ii. p. 511. 


but to Great Britain it was portentous. Distrusting Bona- 
parte's purposes, a large division of British ships was 
ordered to re-enforce the squadron at Jamaica. Weary of 
a nine-years war and expecting their discharge, the crews 
of some of the vessels mutinied ; and the execution of 
several of these poor seamen was one of the first results of 
Bonaparte's ill-fated attempt to restore the colonial system 
of France. 

The apprehensions shown concerning these distant under- 
takings partook more of panic than of reasonable fear. 
They overlooked the long period that must pass between 
possession and development, as well as the hopeless inferi- 
ority of France in that sea power upon which the tenure of 
colonies must depend. They ignored the evident enormous 
difficulties to be overcome, and were blind to the tottering con- 
dition of the Spanish colonial system, then rapidly approach- 
ing its fall. But if there was exaggeration in an anticipation 
of danger, which the whole history of her maritime past 
entitled Great Britain to reject with scorn, there was no 
question that each month was revealing unexpected and 
serious changes in the relative positions of the two powers, 
which, if not wilfully concealed by France, had certainly 
not been realized by the British ministers when the pre- 
liminaries were signed. Whether they had been cheated 
or merely out-manceuvred, it became daily more plain that 
the balance of power in Europe, of which Great Britain was 
so important a factor, was no longer what it had been when 
she made such heavy sacrifices of her maritime conquests 
to secure the status of the Continent. 

At the same time was unaccountably delayed the work 
of the plenipotentiaries, who were to settle at Amiens the 
terms of the definitive treaty. The British ambassador 
left London on the first of November, and after some stop 
in Paris reached Amiens on the first of December. The 
French and Dutch envoys arrived shortly after; but the 
Spanish failed to appear, and on different pretexts nego- 


tiations were spun out. That this was contrary to the 
wishes of the British ministers scarcely admits of doubt. 
They had already made every sacrifice they could afford ; 
and the position of a popular government, under the free 
criticism of a people impatient for a settled condition of 
affairs, and forced to temporizing expedients for carrying 
on the state business during a period of uncertainty, was 
too unpleasant to suggest bad faith on their part. While 
this suspense still lasted, a startling event occurred, 
greatly affecting the balance of power. The Cisalpine 
Republic, whose independence was guaranteed by the treaty 
of Luneville, adopted toward the end of 1801 a new con- 
stitution, drawn up under the inspection of Bonaparte 
himself. Delegates of the republic, to the number of 
several hundred, were summoned to Lyon to confer with 
the first consul on the permanent organization of their 
state ; and there, under his influence, as was alleged, 
offered to him the presidency, with functions even more 
extensive than those he enjoyed as ruler of France. The 
offer was accepted by him on the 26th of January, 1802 ; 
and thus the power of the Cisalpine, with its four million 
inhabitants, was wielded by the same man who already 
held that of the French republic. A few days later for 
the name Cisalpine was substituted Italian, — a change 
thought to indicate an aggressive attitude towards the 
remaining states of Italy. 

These proceedings at Lyon caused great alarm in Eng- 
land, and many persons before pacifically disposed now 
wished to renew the war. The ministers nevertheless 
ignored what had passed so publicly, and continued the 
effort for peace, despite the delays and tergiversations of 
which their envoy, Lord Cornwallis, bitterly complained ; 
but by the beginning of March, when negotiations had 
lasted three months, their patience began to give way. 
A number of ships were ordered into commission, and ex- 
tensive naval preparations begun. At the same time an 


ultimatum was sent forward, and Cornwallis instructed 
to leave Amiens in eight days if it were not accepted. 
The first consul had too much at stake on the seas to risk 
a rupture, 1 when he had already gained so much by the 
protraction of negotiations and by his astute diplomacy. 
The definitive treaty was signed on the 25th of March, 
1802. The terms did not materially differ from those of 
the preliminaries, except in the article of Malta. The 
boundary of French Guiana obtained from Portugal was 
indeed pushed back off the Amazon, but no mention was 
made of the now notorious cession of Louisiana. 

The provisions touching the little island of Malta and 
its dependencies, Gozo and Comino, were long and elabo- 
rate. The object of each country was to secure the ex- 
clusion of the other from a position so important for 
controlling the Mediterranean and the approaches thereby 
to Egypt and India. The Order of Knights was to be 
restored, with the provision that no citizen either of Great 
Britain or France was thereafter to be a member. The 
independence and neutrality of the Order and of the island 
were proclaimed. The British forces were to evacuate 
within three months after the exchange of ratifications; 
but this stipulation was qualified by the proviso that there 
should then be on the spot a Grand Master to receive pos- 
session, and also two thousand Neapolitan troops which 
the king of Naples was to be invited to send as a garri- 
son. These were to remain for one year after its restitu- 
tion to the Grand Master; or longer, if the Order had not 
then provided the necessary force. Naples was thus 
selected as guardian of the coveted position, because its 
weakness could arouse no jealousy. The independence of 
the islands was placed under the guarantee of Great 
Britain, France, Austria, Spain, Russia, and Prussia; 

1 The slightest delay under these circumstances is very prejudicial, and 
may be of great consequence to our squadrons and naval expeditions. — Corr. 
de Nap., March 11, 1802. 
vol. n. — 6 


the last four being also invited to accede to the long list 
of stipulations. The presence of a grand master and the 
guarantee of the four powers — whose acquiescence was not 
first obtained — were thus integral parts of the agreement ; 
and upon their failure Great Britain afterwards justified 
the delays which left Malta still a pledge in her hands, 
when she demanded from France explanations and indem- 
nities for subsequent actions, injurious, as she claimed, 
to her security and to her dignity. 

By another clause of the treaty Great Britain consented 
to evacuate Porto Ferrajo, the principal port in Elba, 
which she had up to that time held by force of arms. It 
was then known that this was in effect to abandon the island 
to France, who had obtained its cession from Naples and 
Tuscany, formerly joint owners, by conventions first made 
known some time after the signature of the preliminaries. 
Elba was by its position fitted seriously to embarrass the 
trade of Great Britain with Northern Italy, under the 
restrictions laid wherever Bonaparte's power extended; 
but the most important feature of the transaction was the 
impression produced by the long concealment of treaties 
thus unexpectedly divulged. These sudden, unforeseen 
changes imparted an air of illusion to all existing condi- 
tions, and undermined the feeling of security essential to 
the permanent relations of states. 

Despite the shocks caused by these various revelations, 
the treaty of Amiens was received in Great Britain with 
satisfaction, though not with the unmeasured demonstra- 
tions that followed the announcement of the preliminaries. 
In France the general joy was no less profound. " It was 
believed," writes M. Thiers, "that the true peace, the 
peace of the seas, was secured, — that peace which was the 
certain and necessary condition of peace on the Continent." 
The enthusiasm of the nation was poured out at the feet 
of the first consul, to whose genius for war and for diplo- 
macy were not unjustly attributed the brilliant, as well 


as apparently solid, results. Statesmen might murmur 
that France had lost her colonial empire and failed to 
hold Egypt and Malta, while Great Britain had extended 
and consolidated her Indian empire by overthrowing the 
Sultan of Mysore, the ancient ally of France and her own 
most formidable foe in the peninsula ; but the mass even 
of intelligent Frenchmen stopped not to regard the wreck 
of their sea power, of which those disastrous events were 
but the sign. Facts so remote, and whose significance 
was not immediately apparent, were lost to sight in the 
glare of dazzling deeds wrought close at hand. All eyes 
were held by the splendid succession of victories in Italy 
and Germany, by the extension of the republic to her 
natural limits at the Rhine and the Alps, by the restora- 
tion of internal order, and by the proudly dominant posi- 
tion accorded their ruler in 'the councils of the Continent. 
To these was now added free access to the sea, wrung 
by the same mighty hand — as was fondly believed — from 
the weakening of the great Sea Power. At an extraordi- 
nary session of the Legislature, convoked to give legal 
sanction to the treaties and measures of the government, 
the Treaty of Amiens was presented last, as the crown- 
ing work of the first consul ; and it was used as the occa- 
sion for conferring upon him a striking mark of public 
acknowledgment. After some hesitations, the question 
was submitted to the nation whether his tenure of office 
should be for life. The majority of votes cast were affirm- 
ative ; and on the 3d of August, 1802, the senate formally 
presented to him a senatus-consultum, setting forth that 
"the French people names, and the senate proclaims, 
Napoleon Bonaparte consul for life." 

Bonaparte had not waited for this exaltation to continue 
his restless political activity, destined soon to make waste 
paper of the Treaty of Amiens. Great Britain having 
steadfastly refused to recognize the new states set up by 
him in Italy, he argued she had forfeited all right to in- 


terfere thenceforth in their concerns. From this he 
seems to have advanced to the position that she had no 
further claim to mingle in the affairs of the Continent at 
large. The consequent indifference shown by him to 
British sentiment and interests, in continental matters, 
was increased by his conviction that " in the existing state 
of Europe England cannot reasonably make war, alone, 
against us ; " J an opinion whose open avowal in more 
offensive terms afterwards became the spark to kindle the 
final great conflagration. 

The treaty of Luneville had provided that the German 
princes, who by it lost territory on the west bank of the 
Rhine and in Italy, should receive compensation else- 
where in the German empire ; and it was agreed that these 
indemnities should be made mainly at the expense of the 
ecclesiastical principalities, where, the tenure being for 
life only, least hardship would be involved. The diffi- 
culties attending these distributions, and the fixed ani- 
mosity between Prussia and Austria, gave Bonaparte a 
fair pretext to intervene as. mediator, and to guide the 
final settlement upon lines which should diminish the 
relative power and prestige of France's traditional enemy, 
Austria, and exalt her rivals. In doing this he adroitly 
obtained the imposing support of Russia, whose young 
sovereign readily accepted the flattering offer of joint in- 
tervention; the more so that the princes allied to his 
family might thus receive a disproportionate share of the 
spoils. Under Bonaparte's skilful handling, the acquisi- 
tions of Prussia were so far greater than those of Austria 
as to fulfil his prediction, that "the empire of Germany 
should be really divided into two empires, since its affairs 
will be arranged at two different centres." 2 After the 
settlement he boasted that " the affairs of Germany had 
been arranged entirely to the advantage of France and of 

1 Corr. de Nap., March 12, 1802, vol. vii. p. 522. 

2 Ibid., April 3, 1802, vol. vii. p. 543. 


her allies. " * Great Britain was not consulted ; and her 
people, though silent, saw with displeasure the weakening 
of their ally and the aggrandizement of a state they held 
to be faithless as well as hostile. At the same time bad 
feeling was further excited by the peremptory demands of 
Bonaparte for the expulsion from England of certain 
French royalists, and for the repression of the freedom of 
the British press in its attacks upon himself. To these 
demands the British government declined to yield. 

The reclamations of Bonaparte against the press, and 
his intervention in German affairs, preceded the proclama- 
tion of the consulate for life. It was followed at a short 
interval by the formal incorporation with France of 
Piedmont and Elba, by decree dated September 11, 1802. 
Piedmont had been organized as a French military depart- 
ment in April, 1801 ; 2 and Bonaparte had then secretly 
avowed the measure to be a first step to annexation. The 
significance of the present action was that it changed a 
condition which was de facto only, and presumably tem- 
porary, to one that was claimed to be de jure and perma- 
nent. As such, it was a distinct encroachment by France, 
much affecting the states of the Continent, and especially 
Austria, against whose Italian possessions Piedmont was 
meant to serve as a base of operations. The adjacent Re- 
public of Liguria, as the Genoese territory was then 
styled, was also organized as a French military division, 3 
and no security existed against similar action there, — 
most injurious to British commerce, and adding another to 
the transformation scenes passing before the eyes of 
Europe. Nor was the material gain to France alone con- 
sidered; for, no compensation being given to the King of 
Sardinia for the loss of his most important state, this con- 
summated injury was felt as a slight by both Great Britain 

1 Corr. de Nap., July 1, 1802, vol. vii. p. 641. 

2 Ibid., April 13, 1801, vol. vii. p. 153. 

3 Ibid., April 18, 1801, vol. vii. p. 162. 


and Russia, which had earnestly sought some reparation 
for him. For the time, however, no remonstrance was 
made by the ministry. 

New offence was soon given, which, if not greater in 
degree, produced all the effect of cumulative grievance. 
The little canton of Valais, in south-western Switzerland, 
had in the spring of 1802 been forcibly detached from the 
confederation and proclaimed independent, in order to 
secure to the French the Simplon route passing through it 
to Italy ; a measure which, wrote Bonaparte, " joined to 
the exclusive right of France to send her armies by that 
road, has changed the system of war to be adopted in 
Italy. " 1 No further open step was then taken to control 
the affairs of Switzerland; but the French minister was 
instructed to support secretly the party in sympathy with 
the Revolution, 2 and an ominous sentence appeared in the 
message of the first consul to the Legislature, May 6, 
1802, that " the counsels of the French government to the 
factions in Switzerland had so far been ineffective. It is 
still hoped that the voice of wisdom and moderation will 
command attention, and that the powers adjoining Helve- 
tia will not be forced to intervene to stifle troubles whose 
continuance would threaten their own tranquillity. " 3 

In Switzerland, perhaps more than in any other part of 
Europe, had been realized the purpose, announced by the 
National Convention in the celebrated decrees of Novem- 
ber 19 and December 15, 1792, to propagate by force 
changes in the government of countries where the French 
armies could penetrate. Vast changes had indeed been 
made in Belgium, Holland, and Italy; but these when 
first invaded were in open war with France. The inter- 
ference in Switzerland in 1798 had no characteristic of 
serious war, for no means of opposition existed in the in- 

1 Corr. de Nap., August 2, 1802, vol. vii. p. 696. 

2 Ibid., vol. vii. pp. 528, 544. 

3 Ibid., vol. vii p. 578. 


vacled cantons. It was an armed intervention, undertaken 
by the Directory under the impulsion of Bonaparte, avow- 
edly to support citizens of a foreign state " wishing to re- 
cover their liberty." 1 "As soon as the signal was given 
by the entrance of the French armies in 1798 the rising 
was prompt and general ; " 2 and was followed by the 
adoption of a highly centralized constitution, for which the 
country was unprepared. From that time forward agita- 
tion was incessant. Two parties strove for the mastery ; 
the one favoring the new order, known as the Unitarians, 
whose sympathies were with the French Revolution, the 
other the Aristocratic, which sought to return towards the 
former Constitution, and looked for countenance and sup- 
port to the older governments of Europe. Between the 
two there was a central party of more moderate opinions. 

Having secured the Yalais for France, Bonaparte in 
August, 1802, withdrew the French troops till then main- 
tained in Switzerland ; a politic measure tending to show 
Europe that he respected the independence of the country 
guaranteed at Luneville. The opposing parties soon came 
to blows; and the nominal government of moderates, 
which had obtained its authority by extra-constitutional 
action, 3 found that it had on its side "neither the ardent 
patriots, who wished absolute unity, nor the peaceable 
masses sufficiently well disposed to the revolution, but 
who knew it only by the horrors of war and the presence 
of foreign troops." 4 The aristocratic party got the upper 
hand and established itself in the capital, whence the gov- 
ernment was driven. The latter appealed to Bonaparte 
to intervene ; and after a moment's refusal he decided to 
do so. "I will not," he said, "deliver the formidable 
bastions of the Alps to fifteen hundred mercenaries paid 
by England." A French colonel was sent as special en- 

1 Decree of Nov. 19, 1792. 

2 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., livre xv. p. 38. 

8 Ibid., livre xv. pp. 50, 51. 4 Ibid., xvi. p. 234. 


voy bearing a proclamation, dated September 30, 1802, to 
command the oligarchic government to dissolve and all 
armed assemblies to disperse. To support this order, 
thirty thousand French soldiers, under General Ney, were 
massed on the frontiers and soon entered the country. 
Before this show of force all opposition in Switzerland at 
once ceased. 

The emotion of Europe was profound ; but of the great 
powers none save Great Britain spoke. What to Bona- 
parte was a step necessary to the supremacy of France, 
even though a violation of the treaty of Luneville, was, in 
the eyes of Englishmen, not only among the ministry but 
among the most strenuous of the opposition, an oppressive 
interference with " the lawful efforts of a brave and gen- 
erous people to recover their ancient laws and government, 
and to procure the re-establishment of a system which ex- 
perience has demonstrated not only to be favorable to the 
maintenance of their domestic happiness, but to be per- 
fectly consistent with the tranquillity and security of 
other powers." The British cabinet expressed an un- 
willingness to believe that there "would be any further 
attempt to control that independent nation in the exercise 
of its undoubted rights. " * 

Despite this avowed confidence, the ministry on the 
same day, October 10, that this vigorous remonstrance 
was penned, dispatched a special envoy with orders to 
station himself on the frontiers of Switzerland, ascertain 
the disposition of the people, and assure them that, if they 
were disposed to resist the French advance, Great Britain 
would furnish them pecuniary succors. The envoy was 
carefully to refrain from promoting resistance, if the 
Swiss did not spontaneously offer it ; but if they did, he 
was to give them every facility to obtain arms and sup- 
plies. Being thus committed to a course which could 

1 Note Verbale. Remonstrance addressed to the French government. 
(Ann. Reg. 1802; State Papers, p. 675.) 


scarcely fail to lead to hostilities, the British ministry 
next bethought itself to secure some conquests of the late 
war, for whose restitution, in compliance with the treaty, 
orders had already gone forward. On the 17th of October 
dispatches were sent to the West Indies, to Dutch Guiana, 
and to the Cape of Good Hope, directing that the French 
and Dutch colonies ordered to be restored should be re- 
tained until further instructions. 

Upon receiving the British remonstrance, Bonaparte 
broke into furious words mingled with threats. On the 
23d of October he dictated instructions to M. Otto, the 
French minister in London, which are characterized even 
by M. Thiers as truly extraordinary. " He would not de- 
liver the Alps to fifteen hundred mercenaries paid by 
England. If the British ministry, to support its parlia- 
mentary influence, should intimate that there was any- 
thing the first consul had not done, because he was 
prevented from doing it, that instant he would do it." 
He scouted the danger to France from maritime war, and 
said plainly that, if it arose, the coasts of Europe from 
Hanover to Taranto would be occupied by French troops 
and closed to British commerce. "Liguria, Lombardy, 
Switzerland and Holland would be converted into French 
provinces, realizing the Empire of the Gauls." Great 
Britain herself was threatened with invasion by a hundred 
thousand soldiers; and if, to avert the danger, she suc- 
ceeded in arousing another continental war, " it would be 
England that forced us to conquer Europe. The first 
consul was but thirty-three. He had as yet destroyed 
only states of the second order. Who knows how long it 
would take him, if forced thereto, to change again the 
face of Europe and revive the Empire of the West ?" The 
minister was directed to state to the British government 
that the policy of France towards England was " the whole 
treaty of Amiens; nothing but the treaty of Amiens." A 
week later the same phrase was repeated in the Moniteur, 


the official journal, in an article which expressly denied 
Great Britain's right to appeal to the treaty of Lun(3ville, 
because she had refused to recognize the new states con- 
stituted by it. M. Otto wisely withheld the provoking 
language of the dispatch, but necessarily communicated 
the demand for the whole treaty of Amiens and the re- 
fusal of aught not therein found. To this the British 
minister of foreign affairs replied with the pregnant 
words, "The state of the Continent when the treaty of 
Amiens was signed, and nothing but that state." The 
two declarations created a dead-lock, unless one party 
would recede. 

Despite these explicit formulas both governments were 
somewhat in the dark as to the extent of the dangers. 
The British ministry had not heard all that Bonaparte 
said, and he was ignorant of the orders sent to retain the 
captured colonies. g Meanwhile, Swiss opposition having 
failed, the British envoy to them was recalled ; and. on 
the 15th of November new instructions were sent to the 
Cape of Good Hope and the West Indies, revoking those 
of the previous month to stop the restitutions. It re- 
mained, however, a question whether the second vessel 
would overtake the first. If she did not, the action of the 
British ministry would transpire in an offensive way. 
Accordingly, when Parliament met on the 23d of Novem- 
ber, the king's speech took the color of this perplexity, 
alluding somewhat enigmatically to the necessity of watch- 
ing the European situation and providing for security as 
well as for peace. The debates which followed were 
tinged with the same hue of uncertainty. The ministry 
could only say that its policy was to preserve peace, if 
possible ; but that, in view of recent events, it must call 
upon the House and the country to entertain a spirit of 
watchfulness. 1 

The Swiss affair was the turning-point in the relations 

1 Lord Hawkesbury's speech; Pari. Hist., vol. xxxvi. p. 971. 


of the two countries. The first consul's vigilance had 
been lulled by the seeming easy acquiescence of the Brit- 
ish ministry in previous encroachments, and the readiness 
with which, notwithstanding these, they had surrendered 
their conquests and continued to fulfil the terms of the 
treaty. Their present action not only exasperated, but 
aroused him. The remonstrance ended in words; but, 
like the little trickle which betrays the fissure in a dam, 
it betokened danger and gave warning that the waters of 
strife were ready to burst through the untempered barrier 
put together to restrain them, and again pour their desolat- 
ing flood over Europe. Bonaparte began to look carefully 
at the existing situation, and found that the British troops 
had not yet quitted Egypt nor surrendered Malta to the 
Order of St. John. Representations were made on both 
these subjects, and the British government was pressed to 
evacuate Malta. 1 

The ministry, however, were also alive to the gravity of 
the situation, increased as it was by the orders, not yet 
known, to stop the restitutions. To abandon Egypt to 
Turkey they had no objection ; and to the French ambas- 
sador's demand replied, on November 30, that the failure 
to do so had resulted from a misunderstanding on the part 
of the British commander-in-chief, to whom explicit in- 
structions were now sent. Regarding Malta, their feeling 
was very different. Honestly intending to carry out the 
treaty, they had admitted the Neapolitan garrison to the 
island, though not yet to the fortifications; and their am- 
bassadors to the Great Powers had been early directed to 
ask their guarantee for the independence of the Order. 
The French government did not instruct its representa- 
tives to do the same. Whether this was due, as Thiers 
says, to the negligence of Talleyrand, or whether the first 
consul preferred not to be troubled by the resistance of 
other powers in case he again seized the island, the fail- 
1 Pari. Hist., vol. xxxvi. p. 1380. 


ure of France to join in the application caused Russia and 
Prussia to defer their answer to the British ambassadors. 
The joint request was not made to Prussia until Septem- 
ber, nor to the czar until November 3. By this time the 
Swiss incident had come and gone, leaving behind it the 
state of tension already described. Not till the 25th of 
the month did the czar reply ; and then, before giving his 
acquiescence, he required in the organization of the island 
changes seriously affecting the object of the treaty, which 
aimed to base its independence upon its own people as 
well as upon guarantees. At Amiens it had been agreed 
that the Order should be open to native Maltese, by whom 
also at least half the government offices should be filled. 
Half the garrison likewise was to be composed of natives. 
To these provisions the czar excepted. All such points of 
interior organization were to be left to the decision of the 
legal government of the Order; 1 i. e., of the Order as be- 
fore constituted. 

The record of the ministry in the matter of Malta was 
so clear that it could well afford to protract discussion on 
the points raised by Russia. No cession made by the 
treaty had been more generally lamented by Englishmen, 
keenly sensitive to all that affected their position in the 
Mediterranean or threatened the approaches to India. In 
case the peace which was its sole achievement failed, the 
ministry could save from the wreck of its hopes no more 
welcome prize with which to meet a disappointed people. 
Other valid objections to restoration were not wanting. 
No Grand Master had yet accepted. Spain, notoriously 
under Bonaparte's influence, had suppressed the revenues 
of the Order within her limits. Similar action had fol- 
lowed elsewhere, and it was argued that the income of 
the Order would not suffice to maintain the defence of the 
island, nor consequently its independence. But, while 
thus keeping its hold on Malta by diplomatic pleas, the 

1 Annual Register, 1803, p. 681. 


ministry took broader ground in its discussions with 
France. Its envoy there was replaced by an ambassador 
of the highest rank, Lord Whitworth ; who was instructed 
to affirm explicitly Great Britain's right to interfere in 
continental affairs, whenever in her judgment required by 
her own interests, or those of Europe in general. He was 
also to point out the various encroachments which had 
added to the influence and power of France, and to inti- 
mate that these changes in the conditions since the treaty 
had been concluded entitled Great Britain to compensa- 
tions. The annexation of Piedmont, the renunciation of 
the Grand Duke of Parma in favor of France, the invasion 
of Switzerland, were specifically named as making a most 
material alteration in the state of engagements since the 
conclusion of the definitive treaty. Attention was also 
called to the fact that although, by a convention signed in 
August, 1801, French troops were to remain in Holland 
only until the conclusion of peace between Great Britain 
and France, they had not yet been withdrawn, thus vio- 
lating the independence of the Batavian republic guaranteed 
at Luneville. The ambassador was warned, however, not 
to commit the government to any specific determinations, 
and especially on the subject of Malta. 1 

The ministers, therefore, were still undecided. They 
had climbed upon the fence, but were prepared to get 
down again on the side whence they had started, if a fan- 
opportunity were given. Unfortunately for the interests 
of peace, Bonaparte, in the madness of his strength, either 
exaggerating the weakness of the ministry or underesti- 
mating the impulsion it could receive from popular feel- 
ing, proceeded deliberately to arouse the spirit which he 
was never again able to lay. On the 30th of January, 
1803, was published in the " Moniteur " Colonel Sebas- 
tiani's famous report of his mission to the Levant. 

1 Secret Instructions to Lord Whitworth ; Yonge's Life of Lord Liver- 
pool, vol. i. p. 93. 


Sebastiani had been dispatched in a frigate the previous 
September, to visit Tripoli, Egypt, Syria, and the Ionian 
islands, and ascertain the political and military conditions. 
His report was in the main a fulsome narrative of the 
reverence in which the first consul was said to be held by 
the Eastern peoples ; but, upon the very detailed account 
of the indifference to military preparations, followed the 
startling statement that "six thousand French troops 
would now suffice to conquer Egypt. " The Ionian islands 
were also pronounced ready to declare themselves French 
at the first opportunity. Finally, General Stuart, com- 
manding the British troops in Alexandria, was accused of 
seeking to compass Sebastiani 's murder by sending to the 
Pasha a copy of a general order issued by Bonaparte when 
in Egypt. 

The exasperation such a paper would excite in Great 
Britain was so obvious, that its publication has been at- 
tributed to the deliberate design to provoke a maritime 
war ; under cover of which the first consul could, without 
open humiliation, abandon the enterprise against Haiti. 1 
The first and general success of the French troops in that 
colony had been followed by a frightful pestilence of yel- 
low fever ; after which the negroes in every quarter again 
rose and defied the weakened bands of their enemies. On 
the 8th of January the " Moniteur " published the death 
of Leclerc, the commander-in-chief, with an account of the 
ravages of the disease. It was indeed painfully apparent 
that the colony could not be regained, and utilized, with- 
out an expenditure of life impossible to afford ; 2 but the 
fever itself was an excuse even more potent than the Brit- 
ish navy for abandoning the attempt without military dis- 
honor. To penetrate the real motives of a spirit so subtle 
and unscrupulous as Bonaparte's is hopeless; nor can de- 

1 Adams, Hist, of the United States, 1801-1817, vol. ii. pp. 13-21. 

2 The San Domingo expedition cost the lives of over twenty-five thousand 
French soldiers. 


pendence be placed upon the statements of his brothers 
Lucien and Joseph, who are the sole authorities for the 
purpose thus alleged for the publication. There seems 
little cause to seek another reason than the same truculent 
arrogance manifested in his instructions to Otto of Octo- 
ber 23, and the success which his past experience had 
taught him to expect from bluster. The secret mission to 
Prussia of his confidential aid, Duroc, six weeks later, 
clearly indicates that the result had disappointed him and 
that he did not want war, — at least as yet. 1 Duroc was 
instructed to see the king personally and say that, if war 
broke out, French troops would occupy Hanover, a step 
known to be particularly obnoxious to Prussia, who wished 
herself to absorb it. Her repugnance was to be used as a 
lever, to induce intervention with Great Britain to evacu- 
ate Malta. 2 

Bonaparte in truth was less interested in the West than 
in the East, whose vast populations, vivid history, and 
fabled riches struck his imagination far more forcibly 
than the unpeopled wildernesses of America. Access to 
the East, as to the West, was perforce by water, and so 
controlled by the power that ruled the sea ; but the way 
by the Levant was shorter, evasion therefore easier. 
Malta, Taranto, the Ionian islands, the Morea were gate- 
ways to the East. The last three, as practically conti- 

1 The British ambassador in Paris reached the same conclusion from the 
instructions sent by Talleyrand to the French envoy in London. " It appears 
from this note that this government is not desirous to proceed to extremities ; 
that is to say, it is not prepared to do so." (March 18 ; Pari. Hist., vol. xxxvi. 
p. 1315.) The United States minister in Paris also wrote, March 24, " Here 
there is an earnest and sincere desire to avoid war, as well in the government 
as the people." (Am. State Papers, ii. 549.) 

2 Instructions to Duroc, March 12, 1803 , Corr. de Nap., vol. viii. pp. 307- 
311. It is noteworthy that these instructions were issued the same day that 
was received in Paris information of the king's message to Parliament of 
March 8, that " in consequence of military preparations in the ports of France 
and Holland he had adopted additional measures of precaution." Two days 
later the militia was called out. 


nental, 1 he considered to be within his own grasp; the 
first alone could be readily and securely held by the 
Power of the Seas. From it therefore he sought to hasten 
her. On the 27th of January Talleyrand, "with great 
solemnity and by express order of the first consul," re- 
quired of Lord Whitworth to inform him what were his 
Majesty's intentions regarding the evacuation of Malta. 
No reply was given, except a promise to report the con- 
versation. 2 On the 30th was issued Sebastiani's report, 
whose scarcely veiled threats against British interests in 
the East might perhaps induce a weak government to 
propitiate the first consul by compliance. 

If so meant, the attempt was miscalculated. The 
British ministry replied that, despite his just claim for 
compensation, the king would have withdrawn his force 
from Malta, when the clauses of the treaty affecting it 
were fulfilled; but that, in view of Sebastiani's report, 
he would not do so until substantial security was provided 
against the purposes therein revealed. From that time 
forward letters and interviews followed in rapid succes- 
sion, the British ministry gradually stiffening in its at- 
titude concerning the island. On the 20th of February 
Bonaparte gave a fresh provocation which deeply stirred 
the British people, although no notice was taken of it by 
the ministry. In a message sent that day to the legisla- 
ture, he declared the certainty of continental peace ; but 
concerning Great Britain he continued: "Two parties 
there strive for power. One has made peace and wishes 
to keep it; the other has sworn implacable hatred to 
France. . . . Whatever the success of intrigue in London, 
it will not drag other nations into new leagues, and this 
government says with just pride : ' England, alone, can- 
not to-day contend against France.'" 

On March 8 the British government sent a message to 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. viii. p. 308. 

2 Pari Hist., vol. xxxvi. p. 1293. 


Parliament, that, in consequence of military preparations 
going on in the ports of France and Holland, the king 
judged expedient to adopt additional measures of precau- 
tion for the security of his dominions. It is fair to say 
that these preparations were not on a scale by themselves 
to warrant the proposed action; which was asserted by 
critics of the ministry to be due to information of transac- 
tions at the Cape of Good Hope. This had already been 
delivered to the Dutch authorities when the orders coun- 
termanding the restitution arrived; but the British com- 
mander had adroitly repossessed himself of the works. 
This news reached London early in March; and the pro- 
posed armaments were thought to be precautions rather 
against Bonaparte's action, when he too heard it, than 
against the existing movements in French or Dutch 

From this time forward Great Britain rather than 
France was aggressive. Receiving no explanation upon 
the grievances advanced, Lord Whitworth was on the 4th 
of April instructed to say that, if the French government 
continued to evade discussion about compensations due 
for its aggressions on the Continent and satisfaction for 
Sebastiani's report, and yet demanded the evacuation of 
Malta, he should declare that relations of amity could not 
continue to exist, and that he must leave Paris within a 
certain time. If they were willing to discuss, he was in- 
structed to propose the cession of Malta in perpetuity to 
Great Britain and the evacuation of Holland and Switzer- 
land by French troops; in return for which Great Britain 
would confirm Elba to France and acknowledge the king- 
dom of Etruria. If a satisfactory arrangement were made 
in Italy for the king of Sardinia, she would further ac- 
knowledge the Italian and Ligurian republics. The first 
consul replied that he would sooner see the British on the 
heights of Montmartre than in the possession of Malta. 
Some futile efforts were made to find a middle term ; but 

VOL. II. — 7 


the ministry having insisted, as its ultimatum, upon occu- 
pying the island for at least ten years, the ambassador 
demanded his passports and left Paris on the 12th of May. 
On the 16th Great Britain declared war against France. 
The following day Admiral Cornwallis sailed from Ply- 
mouth with ten ships-of-the-line, and two days later ap- 
peared off Brest, resuming the watch of that port. On 
the afternoon of the 18th Nelson hoisted his flag on board 
the "Victory " at Portsmouth, and on the 20th sailed for 
the Mediterranean, there to take the chief command. 

Thus again, after a brief intermission, began the strife 
between Great Britain and France, destined during its 
twelve years' course to involve successively all the powers 
of Europe, from Portugal to Russia, from Turkey to Swe- 
den. On the land, state after state went down before the 
great soldier who wielded the armies of France and the 
auxiliary legions of subject countries, added to her stand- 
ards by his policy. Victory after victory graced his eagles, 
city after city and province after province were embodied 
in his empire, peace after peace was wrested from the con- 
quered ; but one enemy remained ever erect, unsubdued, 
defiant ; and on the ocean there was neither peace nor 
truce, until the day when he himself fell under the hosts of 
foes, aroused by his vain attempt to overthrow, through 
their sufferings, the power that rested upon the seas. 

The debates in the House of Commons revealed an agree- 
ment of sentiment unparalleled in the former war. Dif- 
ferences of opinion there were. A very few thought that 
hostilities might even yet be averted, while others argued 
bitterly that, had Bonaparte's first encroachments been re- 
sisted, the nation might have been spared, if not war, at 
least humiliation. But, while both groups condemned the 
administration, the one for precipitation, the other for 
pusillanimous and protracted submission, both agreed that 
just occasion for war had been given. As usual, opposition 
took the form of an amendment to the address, which, 


while carefully excluding any approval of the ministry, 
still "assured his Majesty of our firm determination to co- 
operate with his Majesty in calling forth the resources of 
the United Kingdom for the vigorous prosecution of the 
war in which we are involved." The proposer, Mr. Grey 

— one of the most strenuous opponents of the former war 

— was careful to say that, though he objected to some 
points of the late negotiation, he acknowledged the neces- 
sity of resisting the spirit of encroachment shown by 
France. Even for this very qualified disapproval of a min- 
istry in whose capacity none had confidence, there could 
in this grave crisis be found only 67 votes, against 398 who 
preferred not to weaken, by an apparent discord, the unan- 
imous voice. Having regard to the reasons for their dis- 
sent urged by the various speakers, the result disposes for- 
ever of the vain assertion that Great Britain feared to meet 
France alone. The solemn decision was not taken blind- 
fold nor in haste. The exorbitant power of Bonaparte, 
the impossibility of allies, the burden that must be borne, 
were all quoted and faced ; and Mr. Pitt, who then spoke 
for the first time in many months, while fully supporting 
the war, warned the members in his stately periods of the 
arduous struggle before them. "In giving their assurances 
he trusted that other gentlemen felt impressed with the 
same sense which he did of the awful importance of the 
engagement into which they were preparing to enter ; and 
that they considered those assurances, not as formal words 
of ceremony or custom, but as a solemn and deliberate 
pledge, on behalf of themselves and of the nation whom 
they represented, — knowing and feeling to their full ex- 
tent the real difficulties and dangers of their situation, and 
being prepared to meet those difficulties and dangers with 
every exertion and every sacrifice which the unexampled 
circumstances of the times rendered indispensable for the 
public safety. . . . The scale of our exertions could not be 
measured by those of former times, or confined within the 


limits even of the great, and till then unexampled, efforts 
of the last war. " 1 

In the same speech Pitt correctly and explicitly indicated 
the two methods by which France might seek to subdue 
Great Britain. " If they indulge themselves in any expecta- 
tion of success in the present contest, it is built chiefly on 
the supposition (1) that they can either break the spirit 
and shake the determination of the country by harassing 
us with perpetual apprehension of descent upon our coasts, 
or (2) that they can impair our resources and undermine 
our credit, by the effects of an expensive and protracted 
contest." Not to one only, but to both of these means did 
Bonaparte resort, on a scale proportioned to his compre- 
hensive genius and his mighty resources. For the inva- 
sion of England preparations were at once begun, so ex- 
tensive and so thorough as to indicate not a mere threat, 
but a fixed purpose ; and at the same time measures were 
taken to close to Great Britain the markets of the Conti- 
nent, as well as to harass her commerce by the ordinary 
operations of maritime war. Trafalgar marked the term 
when all thought of invasion disappeared, and was suc- 
ceeded by the vast combinations of the Continental System, 
itself but an expansion of the former measures of exclu- 
sion. Framed to impair the resources and sap the credit 
of Great Britain, this stupendous fabric, upheld, not by the 
cohesion of its parts, but by the dextrous balancing of an 
ever watchful policy, overtaxed the skill and strength of 
its designer, and crushed him in its fall. 

1 Speech of May 23, 1803. 


The Trafalgar Campaign to the Spanish Declaration 
op War. May, 1803 — December, 1804. 

Preparations for the Invasion of England. — The Great 
Flotilla. — Napoleon's Military and Naval Combinations 
and British Xaval Strategy. — Essential Unity of Napo- 
leon's Purpose. — Causes of Spanish War. 

ALTHOUGH Great Britain and France had each, up to 
the last moment, hoped to retain peace upon its own 
terms, preparations for war had gone on rapidly ever since 
the king's message of March 8. Immediately upon issuing 
this, couriers were dispatched to the various sea-ports, with 
orders to impress seamen for the numerous ships hastily 
ordered into commission. Some details have come down 
giving a vivid presentment of that lawless proceeding 
known as a " hot press," at this period when it was on the 
point of disappearing. " About 7 p. m. yesterday," says 
the Plymouth report of March 10, " the town was alarmed 
with the marching of several bodies of Royal Marines in 
parties of twelve or fourteen each, with their officers and a 
naval officer, armed. So secret were the orders kept that 
they did not know the nature of the service on which they 
were going, until they boarded the tier of colliers at the 
new quay, and other gangs the ships at Catwater, the Pool 
and the gin-shops. A great number of prime seamen were 
taken out and sent on board the admiral's ship. In other 
parts of the town, and in all the receiving and gin-shops at 
Dock, several hundreds of seamen and landsmen were 
picked up. By returns this morning it appears that 


upwards of four hundred useful hands were pressed last 
night. One gang entered the Dock theatre and cleared the 
whole gallery except the women." Parties of seamen and 
marines were placed across all roads leading out of the 
towns, to intercept fugitives. In Portsmouth the colliers 
were stripped so clean of men that they could not put to sea ; 
while frigates and smaller vessels swept the Channel and 
other sea-approaches to the kingdom, stopping all merchant 
ships, and taking from them a part of their crews. The 
whole flotilla of trawl-boats fishing off the Eddystone, forty 
in number, were searched, and two hands taken from each. 
Six East India ships, wind-bound off Plymouth on their 
outward voyage, were boarded by armed boats and robbed 
of three hundred seamen, till then unaware that a rupture 
with France was near. 1 

Bonaparte on his side had been no less active, although 
he sought by the secrecy of his movements to avert alarm 
and postpone, if possible, the war which for his aims was 
premature. Orders were given that re-enforcements for 
the colonies should go forward rapidly, ere peace was 
broken. No ships-of-the-line or frigates should henceforth 
go with them ; and those already abroad were for the most 
part at once recalled. Troops were concentrated on the 
coasts of Holland and Flanders ; and the flat-boats built in 
the last war with a view to invading England were as- 
sembled quietly in the Scheldt and the Channel ports. 
Plans were studied for the harassment of British commerce. 
On the 9th of April was commanded the armament of the 
shores, from the Scheldt westward to the Somme, a distance 
of one hundred and twenty miles, which afterwards became, 
to use Marmont's vivid expression, " a coast of iron and 
bronze." A few days later Elba and all the coasts and 
islands of France were ordered fortified ; and the first 
consul's aides-de-camp sped north and east and west, to 
see and report the state of preparation in all quarters. 

1 Naval Chronicle, vol. ix. pp. 243, 247, 329,330,332,491. 


One affair of great importance still remained to arrange. 
The smaller French islands in the East and West Indies 
could be held in subjection by a moderate number of troops, 
who could also resist for a considerable time any attempt 
of the British, unless on a very large scale. This was not 
the case with Haiti or Louisiana. In the former the French, 
reduced by the fever, were now shut up in a few sea-ports ; 
communication between which, being only by water, must 
cease when the maritime war broke out. Between the 
blacks within and the British without, the loss of the 
island was therefore certain. Louisiana had not yet been 
occupied. Whatever its unknown possibilities, the immedi- 
ate value to France of this possession, so lately regained, 
was as a source of supplies to Haiti, dependent for many 
essentials upon the American continent. With the fall of 
the island the colony on the mainland became useless. Its 
cession by Spain to France had at once aroused the jealousy, 
with which, from colonial days, the people of the United States 
have viewed any political interference by European nations 
on the American continent, even when involving only a 
transfer from one power to another. In the dire straits of 
the Revolution, when the need of help from abroad was so 
great, they had been careful to insert in the Treaty of 
Alliance with France an express stipulation, that she would 
not acquire for herself any of the possessions of Great 
Britain on the mainland ; having then in view Canada and 
the Floridas. This feeling was intensified when, as now, 
the change of ownership was from a weak and inert state 
like Spain to one so powerful as France, with the reputa- 
tion for aggressiveness that was fast gathering around the 
name of Bonaparte. 

The fear and anger of the American people increased 
with the reserve shown by the French government, in reply- 
ing to the questions of their minister in Paris, who asked 
repeatedly, but in vain, for assurances as to the navigation 
of the Mississippi; and the excitement reached a climax 


when in November, 1802, news was received that the Span- 
ish authorities in New Orleans had refused to American 
citizens the right of deposit, conceded by the treaty of 1795 
with Spain. This was naturally attributed to Bonaparte's 
influence, and the inhabitants of the upper Mississippi val- 
ley were ready to resort to arms to enforce their rights. 

Such was the threatening state of affairs in America, 
while war with Great Britain was fast drawing on. Bona- 
parte was not the man to recede before a mere menace of 
hostilities in the distant wilderness of Louisiana; but it 
was plain that, in case of rupture with Great Britain, any 
possessions of France on the Gulf of Mexico were sure to 
fall either to her or to the Americans, if he incurred the 
enmity of the latter. It was then believed in Washington 
that France had also acquired from Spain the Floridas, 
which contained naval ports essential to the defence of 
Louisiana. On the 12th of April, 1803, arrived in Paris 
Mr. Monroe, sent by Jefferson as envoy extraordinary, to 
treat, in conjunction with the regular minister to France, 
for the cession of the Floridas and of the island of New 
Orleans to the United States ; the object of the latter be- 
ing to secure the Mississippi down to its mouth as their 
western boundary. Monroe's arrival was most opportune. 
Lord Whitworth had five days before communicated the 
message of the British cabinet that, unless the French gov- 
ernment was prepared to enter into the required explana- 
tions, relations of amity could not exist, and at the same 
time the London papers were discussing a proposition to 
raise fifty thousand men to take New Orleans. 1 Three days 
later, April 10, the first consul decided to sell Louisiana ; 2 
and Monroe upon his arrival had only to settle the terms of 
the bargain, which did not indeed realize the precise object of 
his mission, but which gave to his country control of the west 
bank of the Mississippi throughout its course, and of both 
banks from its mouth nearly to Baton Rouge, a distance of 

1 Am. State Papers, vol. ii. p. 553. 2 Ibid. 


over two hundred miles. The treaty, signed April 30, 
1803, gave to the United States" the whole of Louisiana 
as Spain had possessed it," for the sum of eighty million 
francs. Thus the fear of Great Britain's sea power was 
the determining factor ] to sweep the vast region known as 
Louisiana, stretching from the Gulf toward Canada, and 
from the Mississippi toward Mexico, with ill-defined boun- 
daries in either direction, into the hands of the United 
States, and started the latter on that course of expansion 
to the westward which has brought her to the shores of 
the Pacific. 

Having thus relinquished a position he could not defend, 
and, as far as in him lay, secured the French possessions 
beyond the sea, Bonaparte could now give his whole atten- 
tion to the plans for subjugating the British Islands which 
had long been ripening in his fertile brain. 

It was from the first evident that Great Britain, having 
in the three kingdoms but fifteen million inhabitants, could 
not invade the territory of France with its population of 
over twenty-five millions. This was the more true be- 
cause the demands of her navy, of her great mercantile 
shipping, and of a manufacturing and industrial system 
not only vast but complex, so that interference with parts 
would seriously derange the whole, left for recruiting the 
British armies a fraction, insignificant when compared with 
the resources in men of France ; where capital and manu- 
factures, commerce and shipping, had disappeared, leaving 
only an agricultural peasantry, upon which the conscription 
could freely draw without materially increasing the pov- 
erty of the country, or deranging a social system essentially 

This seeming inability to injure France gave rise to the 
sarcastic remark, that it was hardly worth while for a 

1 In case of war, it was the purpose of the British government to send an 
expedition to occupy New Orleans, as it did afterwards in 1814. (Am. State 
papers, vol. ii. pp. 551, 557.) 


country to go to war in order to show that it could put 
itself in a good posture for defence. This, however, was a 
very superficial view of the matter. Great Britain's avowed 
reason for war was the necessity — forced upon a reluctant 
ministry and conceded by a bitter opposition — of resist- 
ing encroachments by a neighboring state. Of these, on 
the Continent, part had already occurred and were, for the 
time at least, irremediable ; but there had also been clearly 
revealed the purpose of continuing similar encroachments, 
in regions whose tenure by an enemy would seriously com- 
promise her colonial empire. To prevent this, Great Brit- 
ain, by declaring war, regained her belligerent rights, and 
so resumed at once that control of the sea which needed 
only them to complete. She pushed her sway up to every 
point of her enemy's long coast-line ; and following the 
strategy of the previous war, under the administration of 
the veteran seaman who had imparted to it such vigor, she 
prevented her enemy from combining any great operation, 
by which her world-wide dominion could be shaken or vital 
injury be inflicted at any point. The British squadrons, 
hugging the French coasts and blocking the French arsenals, 
were the first line of the defence, covering British interests 
from the Baltic to Egypt, the British colonies in the four 
quarters of the globe, and the British merchantmen which 
whitened every sea. 

This was the defensive gain in a war whose motive was 
essentially defensive. Offensively Great Britain, by the 
suddenness with which she forced the issue, dealt a blow 
whose weight none understood better than Bonaparte. 
That he meant war eventually is most probable. His in- 
structions to Decaen, Captain-General of the French East 
Indies, dated January 15, 1803, speak of the possibility of 
war by September, 1804 ; but how little the bravado of Se*- 
bastiani's report indicated a wish for an immediate rupture, 
is shown by the secret message sent to Andre*ossy in Lon- 
don, on the very day Whit worth left Paris. Despite the 


bluster about his willingness to see Great Britain on Mont- 
martre rather than in Malta, he then wrote : " Direct Gen- 
eral Andreossy that when he is assured the accompanying 
note has been communicated to the English government, he 
cause it to be understood through Citizen Schimmelpenninck 
or by any other indirect means, that if England absolutely 
rejects the proposition of giving Malta to one of the guaran- 
teeing powers, we would not here be averse from accepting 
that England should retain Malta for ten years, and France 
should occupy the peninsula of Otranto. It is important, if 
this proposition has no chance of success, that no communica- 
tion be made leaving any trace ; and that we here may always 
be able to deny that this government could have adhered to 
this proposition" 1 Bonaparte understood perfectly that 
Great Britain, by forcing his hand, had struck down the 
French navy before it had begun to rise. " Peace," he said, 
" is necessary to restore a navy, — peace to fill our arsenals 
empty of material, and peace because then only the one 
drill-ground for fleets, the sea, is open." " Ships, colonies, 
commerce," the wants he avowed later at Ulm, were swept 
away by the same blow. How distressed the finances of 
France, how devoid of credit, none knew better than he, 
who then, as throughout his rule, was engaged in keeping 
up the quotations by government manipulation ; and the 
chief of all sources of wealth, maritime commerce, was 
crushed by the sea power of Great Britain, which thence- 
forth coiled closely and with ever tightening compression 
round the coasts of France. 

Bonaparte could not indeed realize the full extent of the 
injury that would be done. Impatient of obstacles, he 
refused to see that the construction of the flotilla to invade 
England would devour the scanty material for ship- 
building, occupy all the workmen, and so stop the growth 
of the real navy. Even when built, the ever-recurring 

1 Napoleon to Talleyrand; Corr. de Nap., May 13, 1803. 


demand for repairs drained the dockyards of mechanics. 1 
Nor could he foresee how completely Great Britain, by 
reviving the Rule of 1756 in all its rigor, and by replying 
to each blow from the land by one yet heavier from the 
sea, would cut off the resources of France and destroy her 
as a fortress falls by blockade. Unsparing ridicule has 
been heaped upon Pitt for predicting the break-down of the 
French Revolution, in its aggressive military character, by 
financial distress ; but in fact Pitt, though he underesti- 
mated the time necessary and did not look for the vast 
system of spoliation which supplied the lack of regular 
income, was a true prophet. The republic had already 
devoured an immense capital ; 2 and when the conquering 
spirit it ever displayed reached its natural culmination in 
Bonaparte, the constantly recurring need of money drove 
him on from violence to violence till it ended in his ruin. 
This penury was caused directly by the maritime war, 
which shut France off from commerce beyond the seas ; 
and indirectly by the general prostration of business in 
Europe and consequent poverty of consumers, due to 
their isolation from the sea, enforced by Bonaparte as the 
only means of wearing out Great Britain. 

In 1798, when the Peace of Campo Formio had left 
France face to face with Great Britain alone, the question 
of invading the latter had naturally arisen ; but Bonaparte 
easily convinced himself and the Directory that the attempt 
was impossible with any naval force that could at that time 
be raised. He then pointed out that there were two other 
principal ways of injuring the enemy: one by occupying 
Hanover and Hamburg, through which British trade 
entered the Continent ; the other by seizing Egypt as a base 
of operations against India. These two were somewhat of 
the nature of a flank attack ; and the former being in the 

1 Thiers, Consulat et Empire, livre xx. p. 182. 

2 The French repuhlic had devoured under the f)rm of assignats an 
immense amount of national property. — Thiers: Cons, et Emp., livre xvii. 
p. 377. 


then state of the Continent inexpedient, — for both Hamburg 
and Hanover were included in the North German neutrality 
under the guarantee of Prussia, while Austria was by no 
means so reduced as in 1803, — the expedition against Egypt 
was determined. Whatever personal motives may then 
have influenced Bonaparte, that undertaking, from the 
military point of view and in the then condition of the 
Mediterranean, was well conceived ; and, while allowing 
for a large amount of good luck, the measure of success 
achieved must be ascribed to the completeness and secrecy 
of his preparations, as the final failure must to the sea 
power of Great Britain. 

In 1803 Bonaparte found himself no longer a simple 
general, under a weak and jealous government upon whose 
co-operation he could not certainly depend, but an absolute 
ruler wielding all the resources of France. He resolved 
therefore to strike straight at the vital centre of the British 
power, by a direct invasion of the British Islands. The 
very greatness of the peril in crossing the Channel, and in 
leaving it between him and his base, was not without a 
certain charm for his adventurous temper ; but, while 
willing to take many a risk for so great an end, he left to 
chance nothing for which he himself could provide. The 
plan for the invasion was marked by the comprehensiveness 
of view and the minute attention to detail which dis- 
tinguished his campaigns ; and the preparations were on a 
scale of entire adequacy, which he never failed to observe 
when the power to do so was in his hands. 

For these in their grandeur, however, time was needed ; 
but the first consul was ready to move at once, as far as 
was possible to land forces, upon the two flanks of the 
British position. On the 26th of May a corps under 
General Mortier entered Hanover ; while a few days later 
another corps, under General St. Cyr, passed through the 
Papal States into the kingdom of Naples, and resumed 
possession of the peninsula of Otranto with the ports of 


Brindisi and Taranto. From the latter the Ionian islands, 
the Morea, and Egypt, were all threatened ; and the position 
kept alive, as in the deep strategy of Napoleon it was 
meant to do, the anxiety of Nelson concerning those points 
and the Levant generally. Upon this distraction of the 
greatest British admiral, justified as it was by the enemy's 
undoubted purposes in the eastern Mediterranean, de- 
pended a decisive part of Bonaparte's combination against 
Great Britain. 

In Hanover British trade was struck. This German 
electorate of George III. bordered on both the Elbe and the 
Weser, in the lower part of their course ; by occupying it 
France controlled the two great rivers and excluded from 
them all British goods. The act was censured as infringing 
the neutrality of Germany. Bonaparte justified it by the 
hostile character of the elector as king of Great Britain ; 
but no such plea could be advanced for the occupation of 
Cuxhaven, the port of Hamburg, which lay on the Elbe 
outside Hanover. Triple offence was given to Prussia. 
Her ambition to figure as the guardian of North German 
neutrality was affronted, her particular wish to control 
Hanover slighted, and her trade most injuriously affected. 
To the exclusion of British goods Great Britain replied by 
blockading the mouths of the rivers, suffering no ships to 
pass where her own were not allowed, and holding Ger- 
many responsible for permitting a breach of its neutrality 
injurious to herself. The commerce of Hamburg and 
Bremen was thus stopped ; and as they were the brokers 
who received and distributed the manufactures of Prussia, 
the blow was felt throughout the kingdom. The distress 
among the workmen was so wide-spread that the king had 
to come to their relief, and many wealthy men lost half 
their incomes. In addition to the advantages of position 
obtained in Hanover and Naples, Napoleon threw on these 
two neutral states the charge of supporting the corps 
quartered on them, amounting to some thirty thousand 


men in Hanover and half that number in Naples. Holland, 
against which as the ally of France 1 Great Britain also 
declared war, had to maintain a somewhat larger force. 
By such expedients Bonaparte eased his own finances at the 
expense of neutral or dependent countries ; but he was not 
therefore more beloved. 

To invade Great Britain there had first to be concen- 
trated round a chosen point the great armies required to 
insure success, and the very large number of vessels 
needed to transport them. Other corps, more or less 
numerous, destined to further the principal movement by 
diversions in different directions, distracting the enemy's 
attention, might embark at distant ports and sail inde- 
pendently of the main body; but for the latter it was 
necessary to start together and land simultaneously, in 
mass, at a given point of the English coast. To this 
principal effort Bonaparte destined one hundred and 
thirty thousand men; of whom one hundred thousand 
should form the first line and embark at the same hour 
from four different ports, which lay within a length of 
twenty miles on the Channel coast. The other thirty 
thousand constituted the reserve, and were to sail shortly 
after the first. 

To carry any such force at once, in ordinary sea-going 
vessels of that day, was impracticable. The requisite 
number could not be had, and there was no French Chan- 
nel port where they could safely lie. Even were these 
difficulties overcome, and the troops embarked together, 
the mere process of getting under way would entail endless 
delays, the vessels dependent upon sail could not keep to- 
gether, and the only conditions of wind under which they 
could move at all would expose them to be scattered and 

1 " Holland," says Thiers, " would have wished to remain neutral ; but the 
first consul had taken a resolution, whose justice cannot be denied, to make 
every maritime nation aid in our strife against Great Britain." (Cons et 
Emp., livre xvii. p. 383.) 


destroyed by the British navy, which would have the same 
power of motion, and to which Bonaparte could oppose no 
equal force. The very gathering* of so many helpless 
sailing transports would betray the place where the 
French navy must concentrate, and where therefore the 
hostile ships would assemble at the first indication of a 
combined movement. Finally, such transports must an- 
chor at some distance from the British coast and the 
troops land from them in boats, an additional operation 
both troublesome and dangerous. 

For these reasons the crossing must be made in vessels 
not dependent upon sail alone, but capable of being moved 
by oars. They must therefore be small and of very light 
draught, which would allow them to shelter in the, shal- 
low French harbors and be beached upon reaching the 
English coast, so that the troops could land directly from 
them. It was possible that a number of such vessels once 
started, and favored by fog or calm, might pass unseen, 
or even in defiance of the enemy's ships-of-war, lying 
helpless to attack through want of wind. It was upon 
this possibility that Bonaparte sought to fix the attention 
of the British government. As the occupation of Taranto 
and the movements in Italy were designed to divert Nel- 
son's attention to the Levant, so the ostentatious prepara- 
tion of the great flotilla to pass unsupported was meant 
to conceal the real purpose of supporting ic. To concen- 
trate the apprehensions of the British authorities upon 
the flotilla, to draw their eyes away from the naval ports 
in which lay the French squadrons, and then to unite the 
latter in the Channel, controlling it for a measurable time 
by a great fleet, was the grand combination by which 
Bonaparte hoped to insure the triumphant crossing of the 
army and the conquest of England. He kept it, however, 
in his own breast; a profound secret only gradually re- 
vealed to the very few men intrusted with its execution. 

To create and organize the flotilla and the army of in- 


vasion was the first task. Preparations so extensive and 
rapid demanded all the resources of France. To build at 
the same time the thousand and more of boats, each of 
which should carry from sixty to a hundred soldiers, be- 
sides from two to four heavy cannon for its own defence, 
overpassed the powers of any single port. Far in the in- 
terior of France, on the banks of the numerous streams 
running- toward the Channel and the Bay of Biscay, as 
well as in all the little coast harbors themselves, hosts of 
men were busily working. The North Sea and Holland 
were also required to furnish their quota. At the same 
time measures were taken to facilitate their passage in 
safety to the point of concentration, which was fixed at 
Boulogne, and to harbor them commodiously upon arri- 
val. They could from their light draught run close 
along shore, and from their construction be beached with- 
out harm. Within easy gunshot of the coast, therefore, 
lay the road they followed in their passages, which were 
commonly made in bodies of thirty to sixty, and from 
port to port, till the journey's end. To support the move- 
ments, sea-coast batteries were established at short inter- 
vals ; under which, if hard pressed, they could take 
refuge. In addition there were organized in each mari- 
time district batteries of field artillery, which stood ready 
to drive at once to the scene of action in case the enemy 
attacked. " One field-gun to every league of coast is the 
least allowance," wrote Bonaparte. In the early months 
of the war great importance was attached by the British 
to harassing these voyages and impeding the concentra- 
tion, but the attempt was soon abandoned. The boats, if 
endangered, anchored under the nearest guns, infantry 
and horse-artillery summoned by the coast-telegraph hur- 
ried to the scene, and the enemy's vessels soon found the 
combined resistance too strong. Ordinarily, indeed, the 
coastwise movement of a division of the flotilla was a con- 
certed operation, in which all the arms, afloat and ashore, 

VOL. II — 8 


assisted. In extreme cases the vessels were beached, and 
British seamen fought hand to hand with French soldiers 
for possession ; rarely, however, with success. " The cause 
of our flotilla not having succeeded in destroying the gun- 
vessels of the enemy," wrote Lord St. Vincent, "did not 
arise from their draught of water, but from the powerful 
batteries on the coast. " The concentration, though accom- 
plished less swiftly than Bonaparte's eagerness demanded, 
was little impeded by the British. 

The port of Boulogne, near the eastern end of the Eng- 
lish Channel, lies on a strip of coast which runs due south 
from the Straits of Dover to the mouth of the Somme, a 
distance of about fifty miles. It is a tidal harbor, the 
mouth of a little river called the Liane, on the north side 
of which the town is built. In it even boats of small 
draught then lay aground at low water ; and its capacity 
at high water was limited. Extensive excavations were 
therefore ordered to be made by the soldiers encamped in 
the neighborhood, who received extra wages for the work. 
When finished, the port presented a double basin; the 
outer, oblong, bordering the river bed on either side of the 
channel, which was left clear ; the inner of semi-circular 
form, dug out of the flats opposite the town and connected 
with the former by a narrow passage. Both were lined 
with quays, alongside which the vessels of the flotilla lay 
in tiers, sometimes nine deep; and in July, 1805, when 
the hour for the last and greatest of Napoleon's naval 
combinations was at hand, and Trafalgar itself in the 
near distance, Boulogne sheltered over a thousand gun- 
boats and transports ready to carry forty thousand men to 
the shores of England. North and south, not only the 
neighborhood of the harbor but the whole coast bristled 
with cannon; and opposite the entrance rose a powerful 
work, built upon piles, to protect the vessels when going 
out and also when anchored outside. For here was one of 
the great difficulties of the undertaking. So many boats 


could not pass out through the narrow channel during one 
high water. Two tides at the least, that is, twenty-four 
hours, were needed, granting the most perfect organization 
and most accurate movement. Half of the flotilla therefore 
must lie outside for some hours ; and it was not to be ex- 
pected that the British cruisers would allow so critical a 
moment to pass unimproved, unless deterred by the protec- 
tion which the foresight of Bonaparte had provided. 

North of Boulogne and within five miles of it were two 
other much smaller harbors, likewise tidal, called Vime- 
reux and Ambleteuse ; and to the south, twelve miles dis- 
tant, a third, named Etaples. Though insignificant, the 
impossibility of enlarging Boulogne to hold the whole 
flotilla compelled Bonaparte to develop these, and they 
together held some seven hundred more gun-vessels and 
transports. From the three, sixty-two thousand soldiers 
were to embark ; and from each of the four ports a due 
proportion of field artillery, ammunition and other sup- 
plies were to go forward. Some six thousand horses were 
also to be transported ; but the greater part of the cavalry 
took only their saddles and bridles, looking to find mounts 
in the enemy's country. In the North Sea ports, Calais, 
Dunkirk, and Ostend. the flotilla numbered four hundred, 
the troops twenty-seven thousand, the horses twenty-five 
hundred. These formed the reserve, to follow the main 
body closely, but apart from it. In the end they also 
were moved to the Boulogne coast; and their boats, after 
some sharp fighting with British cruisers, joined the main 
flotilla in the four Channel ports. 

To handle such a mass of men upon the battle-field is a 
faculty to which few generals, after years of experience, 
attain. To effect the passage of a broad river with an 
army of that size, before a watchful enemy of equal force, 
is a delicate operation. To cross an arm of the sea nearly 
forty miles wide — for such was the distance separating 
Boulogne and its sister ports from the intended place of 


landing, between Dover and Hastings — in the face of a foe 
whose control of the sea was for the most part undisputed, 
was an undertaking so bold that men still doubt whether 
Napoleon meant it ; but he assuredly did. For success he 
looked to the perfect organization and drill of the army 
and the flotilla, which by practice in embarking and mov- 
ing should be able to seize, without an hour's delay, the 
favorable moment he hoped to provide by the great naval 
combination concealed in his brain. This combination, 
modified and expanded as the months rolled by, but re- 
maining essentially the same, was the germ whence sprang 
the intricate and stirring events recorded in this and the 
following chapters, — events obscured to most men by the 
dazzling lustre of Trafalgar. 

[Between the penning and the publishing of this very 
positive assertion of the author's convictions, he has met 
renewed expressions of doubts as to Napoleon's purpose, 
based upon his words to Metternich in 1810, 1 as well as upon 
the opinions of persons more or less closely connected with 
the emperor. As regards the incident recorded by Metter- 
nich — it is not merely an easy way of overcoming a diffi- 
culty, but the statement of a simple fact, to say that no 
reliance can be placed upon any avowal of Napoleon's as to 
his intentions, unless corroborated by circumstances. That 
the position at Boulogne was well chosen for turning his 
arms against Austria at a moment's notice, is very true ; 
but it is likewise true that, barring the power of the Brit- 
ish navy, it was equally favorable to an invasion of Eng- 
land. What then does this amount to, but that the great 
captain, as always in his career, met a strategic exigency 
arising from the existence of two dangers in divergent 
directions, by taking a central position, whence he could 
readily turn his arms against either before the other 
came up ? 

The considerations that to the author possess irresisti- 

1 Metternich's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 48, note. 


ble force are: (1) that Napoleon actually did undertake 
the almost equally hazardous expedition to Egypt; (2) 
that he saw, with his clear intuition, that, if he did not 
accept the risk of being destroyed with his army in cross- 
in g the Channel, Great Britain would in the end over- 
whelm him by her sea power, and that therefore, extreme 
as was the danger of destruction in one case, it was less 
than in the other alternative, — an argument further devel- 
oped in the later portions of this work. (3) Inscrutable as 
are the real purposes of so subtle a spirit, the author holds 
with Thiers and Lanfrey, that it is impossible to rise 
from the perusal of Napoleon's correspondence during 
these thirty months, without the conviction that so sus- 
tained a deception as it would contain — on the supposi- 
tion that the invasion was not intended — would be 
impossible even to him. It may also be remarked that 
the Memoirs of Marmont and Ney, who commanded corps 
in the Army of Invasion, betray no doubt of a purpose which 
the first explicitly asserts; nor does the life of Marshal 
Davout, another corps commander, record any such im- 
pression on his part. 2 ] 

Meanwhile that period of waiting from May, 1803, to 
August, 1805, when the tangled net of naval and military 
movements began to unravel, was a striking and wonder- 
ful pause in the world's history. On the heights above 
Boulogne, and along the narrow strip of beach from Eta- 
pies to Vimercux, were encamped one hundred and thirty 
thousand of the most brilliant soldiery of all time, the 
soldiers who had fought in Germany, Italy, and Egypt, 
soldiers who were yet to win, from Austria, Ulm and 
Austerlitz, and from Prussia, Auerstadt and Jena, to 
hold their own, though barely, at Eylau against the army 
of Russia, and to overthrow it also, a few months later, 
on the bloody field of Friedland. Growing daily more 
vigorous in the bracing sea air and the hardy life laid out 

1 Cheuier's Vie du Marechal Davout, Paris, 1866. 


for them, they could on fine days, as they practised the 
varied manoeuvres which were to perfect the vast host in 
embarking and disembarking with order and rapidity, see 
the white cliffs fringing the only country that to the last 
defied their arms. Far away, Cornwallis off Brest, Col- 
lingwood off Rochefort, Pellew off Ferrol, were battling 
the wild gales of the Bay of Biscay, in that tremendous 
and sustained vigilance which reached its utmost tension 
in the years preceding Trafalgar, concerning which Col- 
lingwood wrote that admirals need to be made of iron, 
but which was forced upon them by the unquestionable 
and imminent danger of the country. Farther distant 
still, severed apparently from all connection with the 
busy scene at Boulogne, Nelson before Toulon was wear- 
ing away the last two years of his glorious but suffering 
life, fighting the fierce north-westers of the Gulf of Lyon 
and questioning, questioning continually with feverish 
anxiety, whether Napoleon's object was Egypt again or 
Great Britain really. They were dull, weary, eventless 
months, those months of watching and waiting of the 
big ships before the French arsenals. Purposeless they 
surely seemed to many, but they saved England. The 
world has never seen a more impressive demonstration of 
the influence of sea power upon its history. Those far 
distant, storm-beaten ships, upon which the Grand Army 
never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the 
world. Holding the interior positions they did, before — 
and therefore between — the chief dockyards and detach- 
ments of the French navy, the latter could unite only by 
a concurrence of successful evasions, of which the failure 
of any one nullified the result. Linked together as the 
various British fleets were by chains of smaller vessels, 
chance alone could secure Bonaparte's great combination, 
which depended upon the covert concentration of several 
detachments upon a point practically within the enemy's 
lines. Thus, while bodily present before Brest, Roche- 


fort, and Toulon, strategically the British squadrons lay 
in the Straits of Dover barring the way against the Army 
of Invasion. 

The Straits themselves, of course, were not without 
their own special protection. Both they and their ap- 
proaches, in the broadest sense of the term, from the 
Texel to the Channel Islands, were patrolled by numerous 
frigates and smaller vessels, from one hundred to a hun- 
dred and fifty in all. These not only watched diligently 
all that happened in the hostile harbors and sought to 
impede the movements of the flat-boats, but also kept 
touch with and maintained communication between the 
detachments of ships-of-the-line. Of the latter, five off 
the Texel watched the Dutch navy, while others were an- 
chored off points of the English coast with reference to 
probable movements of the enemy. Lord St. Vincent, 
whose ideas on naval strategy were clear and sound, 
though he did not use the technical terms of the art, dis- 
cerned and provided against the very purpose entertained 
by Bonaparte, of a concentration before Boulogne by ships 
drawn from the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The best 
security, the most advantageous strategic positions, were 
doubtless those before the enemy's ports ; and never in the 
history of blockades has there been excelled, if ever 
equalled, the close locking of Brest by Admiral Corn- 
wall is, both winter and summer, between the outbreak of 
war and the battle of Trafalgar. It excited not only 
the admiration but the wonder of contemporaries. 1 In 
. however, the French at Brest got out, so the prime 
minister of the day informed the speaker of the House, 
Cornwallis's rendezvous was off the Lizard (due north 
of Brest), so as to go for Ireland, or follow the French up 
Channel, if they took either direction. /Should the French 
run for the Downs, the five sail-of-the-line at Spithead 

1 See Xnval Chronicle, vol. x pp. 508, 510, vol. xi p. 81. Nelson's Dia 
patches, vol. v p. 438. 


would also follow them ; and Lord Keith (in the Downs) 
would in addition to his six, and six block ships, have 
also the North Sea fleet at his command. 1 Thus pro- 
vision was made, in case of danger, for the outlying 
detachments to fall back on the strategic centre, gradu- 
ally accumulating strength, till they formed a body of 
from twenty-five to thirty heavy and disciplined ships-of- 
the-line, sufficient to meet all probable contingencies. 

Hence, neither the Admiralty nor British naval officers 
in general shared the fears of the country concerning the 
peril from the flotilla. " Our first defence," wrote Nelson 
in 1801, "is close to the enemy's ports; and the Admir- 
alty have taken such precautions, by having such a re- 
spectable force under my orders, that I venture to express 
a well-grounded hope that the enemy would be annihilated 
before they get ten miles from their own shores. " 2 " As 
to the possibility of the enemy being able in a narrow sea 
to pass through our blockading and protecting squadron," 
said Pellew, "with all the secrecy and dexterity and by 
those hidden means that some worthy people expect, I 
really, from anything I have seen in the course of my 
professional experience, am not much disposed to concur 
in it. " 3 Napoleon also understood that his gun-boats 
could not at sea contend against heavy ships with any 
founded hope of success. "A discussion was started in 
the camp," says Marmont, "as to the possibility of fight- 
ing ships of war with flat boats, armed with 24- and 36- 
pounders, and as to whether, with a flotilla of several 
thousands, a squadron might be attacked. It was sought 
to establish the belief in a possible success ; . . . but, not- 
withstanding the confidence with which Bonaparte sup- 
ported this view, he never shared it for a moment." 4 He 

1 Pellew's Life of Lord Sidmouth, vol. ii. p. 237. 

2 Nelson's Dispatches, vol. iv. p. 452. 

3 Pari. Debates, March 15, 1804. 

4 Memoires du Due de Raguse, vol. ii. p. 212. 


could not, without belying every military conviction he 
ever held. Lord St. Vincent therefore steadily refused to 
countenance the creation of a large force of similar vessels 
on the plea of meeting them upon their own terms. "Our 
great reliance," he wrote, "is on the vigilance and activ- 
ity of our cruisers at sea, any reduction in the number of 
which, by applying them to guard our ports, inlets, and 
beaches, would in my judgment tend to our destruction." 
He knew also that gunboats, if built, could only be 
manned, as the French flotilla was, by crippling the 
crews of the cruising ships ; for, extensive as were Great 
Britain's maritime resources, they were taxed beyond 
their power by the exhausting demands of her navy and 
merchant shipping. 

It is true there existed an enrolled organization called 
the Sea Fencibles, composed of men whose pursuits were 
about the water on the coasts and rivers of the United 
Kingdom; men who in the last war had been exempted 
from impressment, because of the obligation they took to 
turn out for the protection of the country when threatened 
with invasion. When, however, invasion did threaten in 
1801, not even the stirring appeals of Nelson, to whom 
was then entrusted the defence system, could bring them 
forward; although he assured them their services were 
absolutely required, at the moment, and on board the 
coast-defence vessels. Out of a total of 2600 in four dis- 
tricts immediately menaced, only 385 were willing to 
enter into training or go afloat. The others could not 
leave their occupations without loss, and prayed that they 
might be held excused. 1 When the French were actually 
on the sea, coming, they professed their readiness to fly on 
board; so, wrote Nelson, we must "trust to our ships be- 
ing manned at the last moment by this (almost) scrambling 
manner." In the present war, therefore, St. Vincent re- 
sisted the re-establishment of the corps until the impress 

1 Nelson's Disp and Letters, vol. iv pp 444-447. 


had manned the ships first commissioned, and even then 
yielded only to the pressure in the cabinet. " It was an 
item in the estimates, " he said with rough humor, " of no 
other use than to calm the fears of the old ladies, both in 
and out." It was upon his former system of close watch- 
ing the enemy's ports that he relied for the mastery of 
the Channel, without which Bonaparte's flotilla dared not 
leave the French coast. " This boat business, " as Nelson 
had said, "may be a part of a great plan of invasion; it 
can never be the only one. " l The event did not deceive 

In one very important particular, however, St. Vincent 
had seriously imperilled the success of his general policy. 
Feeling deeply the corruption prevailing in the dockyard 
and contract systems of that day, as soon as he came to 
the head of the Admiralty he entered upon a struggle 
with them, in which he showed both the singleness of 
purpose and the harshness of his character. Peace, by 
reducing the dependence of the country upon its naval 
establishments, favored his designs of reform; and he 
was consequently unwilling to recognize the signs of re- 
newing strife, or to postpone changes which, however 
desirable, must inevitably introduce friction and delay 
under the press of war. Hence, in the second year of this 
war, Great Britain had in commission ten fewer line-of- 
battle-ships than at the same period of the former. " Many 
old and useful officers and a vast number of artificers had 
been discharged from the king's dockyards ; the custom- 
ary supplies of timber and other important articles of 
naval stores had been omitted to be kept up; and some 
articles, including a large portion of hemp, had actually 
been sold out of the service. A deficiency of workmen 
and of materials produced, of course, a suspension in the 
routine of dockyard business. New ships could not be 
built; nor could old ones be repaired. Many of the ships 

1 Nelson's Disp., vol. iv. p 500. 


in commission, too, having been merely patched up, were 
scarcely in a state to keep the sea. " x On this point St. 
Vincent was vulnerable to the attack made upon his ad- 
ministration by Pitt in March, 1804; but as regarded 
Pitt's main criticism, the refusal to expend money and 
seamen upon gunboats, he was entirely right, and his 
view of the question was that of a statesman and of a man 
of correct military instincts. 2 Nor, after his experience 
with the Sea Fencibles, can he be blamed for not sharing 
Pitt's emotion over "a number of gallant and good old 
men, coining forward with the zeal and spirit of lads 
swearing allegiance to the king," <fcc. 3 

These ill-timed changes affected most injuriously that 
very station — the Mediterranean — upon which hinged 
Bonaparte's projected combination. Out of the insuffi- 
cient numbers, the heaviest squadrons and most seaworthy 
ships were naturally and properly massed upon the Chan- 
nel and Biscay coasts. " I know," said Sir Edward 
Pellew, speaking of his personal experience in command 
of a squadron of six of the line off Ferrol, " I know and 
can assert with confidence that our navy was never better 
found, that it was never better supplied and that our men 
were never better fed or better clothed;" 4 and the con- 
dition of the ships was proved not only by the tenacity 
with which Pellew and his chief, Cornwallis, kept their 
stations, but by the fact that in the furious winter gales 
little damage was received. But at the same time Nelson 
was complaining bitterly that his ships were not sea- 
worthy, that they were shamefully equipped, and destitute 
of the most necessary stores; while St. Vincent was 
writing to him, "We can send you neither ships nor men, 
and with the resources of your mind, you will do without 

1 Junes, Nav Hist., vol. iii. p. 212 (cd. 1878). 

2 See Cobbett'a Reg., vol. v. pp. 442, 443, for some very sensible remarks 
on Pitt's attack, written by Cobbett himself. 

3 Stanbope's Pitt, vol. iv. p. 94. 

4 Pari Debates, 1804, p. 892. 


them very well." 1 "Bravo, my lord!" said Nelson, 
ironically; "but," he wrote a month later, "I do not be- 
lieve Lord St. Vincent would have kept the sea with such 
ships ; " 2 and again, naming seven out of the ten under 
his command, " These are certainly among the very finest 
ships in our service, the best commanded and the very 
best manned, yet I wish them safe in England and that I 
had ships not half so well manned in their room; for it is 
not a store-ship a week that would keep them in repair. " 3 
Such weakness interfered seriously with the close watch 
of Toulon, in face of the furious weather for which the 
Gulf of Lyon is noted ; yet, from the strategic conditions 
of the Mediterranean, in no station was it more important 
to get the earliest news of an enemy's sailing and to keep 
constant touch with him. With the Straits of Gibraltar 
at one end, involving in case of escape several different 
possibilities, and with Egypt fifteen hundred miles away 
at the other, the most sagacious admiral might be misled 
as to the destination of a French squadron, if once lost to 
sight. Upon this difficulty Bonaparte framed his combi- 
nation. In his first purpose the Toulon fleet was to be 
raised to ten sail-of-the-line, and at the fitting moment 
was to sail with a north-west wind, steering a course 
which, if seen by any British lookout, would indicate an 
intention of going eastward. To strengthen this presump- 
tion, General St. Cyr at Taranto was ordered to raise bat- 
teries to shelter a fleet of ten sail, and to prepare half a 
million rations ; while the Minister of War was instructed 
that an extraordinary operation in that direction was con- 
templated about the 20th of November. 4 Simultaneously, 
twenty ships-of-the-line carrying twenty thousand troops 
were to be ready in Brest for a descent upon Ireland, and 

1 Nels. Disp., vol. v. p. 283. 2 j\^^ p> 306< 

3 Ibid., p. 174. The following references also show conditions of Nel- 
son's ships: vol. v. pp. 179, 211, 306, 307, 319, 334; vol. vi. pp. 38, 84, 99, 
100, 103, 134, 158. 

4 Corr. de Nap., vol. viii. p. 657. 


to be maintained in a state of readiness for instant sail- 
ing. This would conduce to keep Cornwallis close to 
Brest and away from the approaches to the Channel. The 
Toulon fleet, after losing sight of the British, was to haul 
up for the Straits, be joined off Cadiz or Lisbon by a 
squadron from Rochefort, raising its force to fifteen or 
sixteen sail-of -the -line, and thence, passing midway be- 
tween Ushant and the Scilly islands, come about the mid- 
dle of February off Boulogne ; were the first consul expected 
then to be ready for crossing with his one hundred and 
thirty thousand men. 

For the Toulon fleet, as the pivot on which all turned, 
Bonaparte selected his boldest admiral, Latouche Treville, 
and fixed the middle of January, 1804, as the time of 
sailing. All the French authorities were scrupulously de- 
ceived, except the admiral himself, the Minister of Marine, 
and the maritime prefect at Toulon, Ganteaume, who had 
divined the secret. 1 The orders to the latter, ostenta- 
tiously confidential to deceive the office clerks, announced 
Martinique as the real destination, but enjoined him to 
tell the general commanding the troops that the squadron 
was going to the Morea, touching at Taranto. At the 
same time staff-officers were sent to notify St. Cyr that 
re-enforcements, which would raise his force to thirty 
thousand men, were coming not only from Toulon but 
from other ports; and troops throughout northern Italy 
began to move toward the seaboard. 

It is not wonderful that Nelson was misled by such an 
elaborate scheme of deception. To this day men doubt 
whether Bonaparte seriously meant to invade England, and 
naval men then realized too keenly the dangers of the un- 
dertaking not to suspect a feint in it. Under all the con- 
ditions of the problem, Egypt and the Straits were equally 
probable solutions, and Egypt was not the only possible 
objective east of Toulon. Sicily and Sardinia, the Ionian 

1 Corr de Nap., vol ix. p. 168 


Islands and the Morea, were coveted by Bonaparte ; both 
as forwarding his control of the Mediterranean and as 
measurable advances towards Egypt and the Levant, tradi- 
tional objects of French ambition. Nelson also suspected 
a secret understanding between France and Russia to 
divide the Turkish Empire; 1 a suspicion justified in the 
past by Bonaparte's actions and to be vindicated in the 
future by the agreements of Tilsit. The perplexities of 
the British admiral were therefore simply the inevitable 
uncertainties of the defence, the part assumed perforce by 
the British Empire at large in this war. He had to pro- 
vide against widely divergent contingencies ; and the 
question is not how far he guessed 2 the inscrutable pur- 
poses of Bonaparte, but how well he took measures for 
meeting either fortune. 

Let it, however, be remarked in passing, that the great 
merit of St. Vincent's strategy was that it minimized the 
evil resulting from a single admiral's mis-step. To the 
success of the French scheme it was necessary that, not 
only one but, all their detached efforts should succeed. 
The strength of the British strategy lay not in hermeti- 
cally sealing any one port, but in effectually preventing a 
great combination from all the ports. It was essential to 
Bonaparte not merely that his scattered squadrons should, 
one at one time and another at another, escape to sea, but 
that they should do so at periods so ordered, and by routes 
so determined, as to insure a rapid concentration at a 
particular point. Against this the British provided by 
the old and sound usage of interior positions and lines. 
This advantage Bonaparte recognized, and sought to 
overthrow by inducing them to diverging operations — 
toward the Levant on one flank, toward Ireland on the 
other. Both diverted from Boulogne. 

1 Nels. Disp., vol v. pp. 115, 136. 

2 " It is at best but a guess," to use his own words, " and the world at- 
taches wisdom to him that guesses right." (Nels. Disp., vol. vi. p. 193.) 


To return to Nelson. During the first six months of 
his command he believed that the Toulon fleet was bound 
out of the Mediterranean ; 1 and indeed, despite Bona- 
parte's wiles and the opinions of most of his own friends, 
he continually reverted to that conviction up to the final 
escape of Villeneuve. He could not, however, on the 
ground of his own intuitions resist the facts reported to 
him. On December 12, 1803, he writes: "Who shall 
say where they are bound ? My opinion is, certainly, out 
of the Mediterranean." 2 Again, January 16, 1804: "It 
is difficult to say what may be the destination of the 
Toulon fleet, Egypt or Ireland. I rather lean to the 
latter. " 3 A week later, January 23, the effect of Bona- 
parte's feints begins to show: "Information just received 
leads me to believe the French fleet is about to put to 
sea bound to the eastward toward Naples and Sicily." 4 
February 10 : " The French have thirty thousand men ready 
to embark from Marseilles and Nice, and I am led to be- 
lieve the Ferrol ships will push for the Mediterranean. 
Egypt is Bonaparte's object." 5 

Against either contingency his course is perfectly clear, 
— never to lose touch of the Toulon fleet. " My eyes are 
constantly fixed on Toulon," 6 he says. "I will not lose 
sight of the Toulon fleet." 7 "It is of the utmost im- 
portance," he writes to his lookout frigates, "that the 
enemy's squadron in Toulon should be most strictly 
watched, and that I should be made acquainted with 
their sailing and route with all dispatch." 8 But here 
the inadequacy of St. Vincent's navy told heavily; 
and to that, not to Nelson, must be attributed the mis- 
steps of the later campaign. "My crazy fleet," he 
writes. "If I am to watch the French I must be at sea, 

1 Sec Nels. Disp , vol. v. pp. 179, 185, 247, 309, 374. 

2 Nels. Disp., vol. v. p. 309. 3 Ibid , p. 374. * Ibid., p. 388. 
5 Ibid., pp. 405, 411. 6 Ibid., p. 498. ' ibid., p. 411. 
8 Ibid., p. 300. 


and if at sea must have bad weather; and if the ships 
are not fit to stand bad weather they are useless. " 1 " I 
know no way of watching the enemy but to be at sea," he 
tells St. Vincent himself, "and therefore good ships are ne- 
cessary. " Under such conditions, with " terrible weather, " 
in winter, not four fine days in six weeks, and even in 
summer having a hard gale every week, 2 it was impossi- 
ble to keep his rickety ships close up against Toulon, as 
Cornwallis kept against Brest. " I make it a rule not to 
contend with the north- westers, " he said. " Going off 
large or furling all sail we escape damage by the constant 
care of the captains ; " and he not unjustly claimed equal 
credit with Cornwallis, in that with such a fleet, to which 
nothing was sent, he kept the sea ten consecutive months, 
"not a ship refitted in any way, except what was done at 
sea." 3 

Though desirable for the battle -ships themselves to be 
near Toulon, it would have been possible, in so narrow a 
sea, to dispense with that by taking a central position, and 
keeping touch with the enemy by numerous frigates ; but 
here also the deficiencies of the navy interfered. Among 
the Maddalena Islands , at the north end of Sardinia, was 
found an admirable central anchorage, well sheltered, 
and having eastern and western exits by which it could 
be left at a moment's notice in all winds. Here the fleet 
could safely lie, ready for instant action, within striking 
distance of any route taken by the enemy, and sure to be 
found by lookout ships bringing tidings. Thither, there- 
fore, as the direction most favorable for intercepting the 
French, 4 Nelson went in January, 1804, when informed 
they were about to sail ; but he wrote : " I am kept in great 
distress for frigates and smaller vessels at this critical 
moment. I want ten more than I have, in order to watch 
that the French should not escape me." 5 This but 

1 Nels. Disp., vol. v. p. 306. 2 Ibid., pp. 253, 254. 

8 Ibid., p. 438. 4 Ibid., p. 338. 6 Ibid., p. 395. 


summed up the constant worry of those anxious two 
years, 1 as it does also the results of recent experience in 
the annual manoeuvres of European navies. Under such 
circumstances all depends upon the position taken by the 
main body and the number of scouts it can throw out. 
Properly, these should move in couples; one of which can 
carry information, while its consort keeps touch of the 
enemy till it meets another of the lookouts scattered on 
their different radii of action. 

The situation of Nelson in the Mediterranean, the char- 
acter of his anxieties, and the condition of his ships have 
been given in some detail, because upon the opposing 
Mediterranean fleets turns the chief strategic interest of 
the intended invasion of England and of the campaign 
which issued in Trafalgar. Lord St. Vincent left office 
witli the Addington Ministry in May, 1804, and under 
the energetic rule of his successor, who threw his admin- 
istrative system to the winds, the condition of Nelson's 
fleet was somewhat bettered; but the change came too 
late to remedy it altogether. 

Various events meanwhile concurred to postpone the 
execution of Bonaparte's project and so to prolong the 
watch of the British admiral. The Boulogne flotilla it- 
self was not as forward as had been expected; but the 
drain made by it upon the French arsenals, for workmen 
and materials, was a greater cause of delay, by retarding 
the equipment of the ships meant to cover the crossing. 
In December only seven of the line were ready in Tou- 
lon. 2 In the spring of 1804, the first consul's attention 
was absorbed by the royalist plot, which led to the arrest 
of Pichegru and Moreau, to the seizure of the Due d'En- 
ghien on German soil and to his execution at Vincennes in 
March. This last event had diplomatic consequences, in 
the attitude taken by Russia and Prussia, which still far- 

1 See Nels. Disp., vol. v. pp. 145, 162, 413; vol. vi. pp. 84, 328, 329. 

2 Corr. de. Nap., vol. ix. p. 226. 
VOL. II. —9 


ther engrossed him ; and the invasion of Great Britain was 
thus by successive delays put off to the summer of 1801. 
On May 25, Napoleon, who had assumed the imperial title 
on the 18th of that month, writes to Latouche 1 that on 
the ocean side all was prepared, that the project was only 
postponed, not abandoned, and asks if he will be ready by 
July. July 2 he writes again, 2 anticipating his sailing 
from Toulon by the first of August, instructs him to pick 
up at Cadiz one French ship-of-the-line which had taken 
refuge there, thence to go to Rochefort, and finally to 
reach Boulogne, according to the first plan, by passing 
through the Channel ; or, if necessary, by going north of 
the British islands. In all passages from port to port he 
was to keep far out to sea to avoid detection. "Let us," 
he adds, " be masters of the Strait for six hours and we 
shall be masters of the world." On the 2d of August, 
however, Napoleon postpones the invasion for some weeks, 
because some divisions of the flotilla had not yet joined; 
and on the 20th of that month Latouche Treville died. 

This loss was serious, as there was not among the sur- 
viving French admirals any who had shown himself fit for 
so important a task, except perhaps Bruix. He, being 
already definitely associated with the flotilla, could not 
well be displaced ; and his health, moreover, was very 
bad, so that he also died the following March. Of two 
others who might possibly prove equal to high command, 
Rosily and Villeneuve, Napoleon, after some hesitation 
and with much mistrust, chose the latter. "All naval 
expeditions undertaken since I have been at the head of 
the government," said he, "have always failed, because 
the admirals see double, and have learned — where, I do 
not know — that war can be made without running risks. " 3 
From this simple and undeniable standpoint no choice 
more unfortunate than Villeneuve could have been made. 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. ix. p. 475. 

2 Ibid., p 513. 3 Ibid., Sept. 12, 1804. 


Accomplished, brave, and skilful, he saw the defects of 
the French navy with a clearness which absolutely sapped 
his power to take risks. Although capable of the ut- 
most self-devotion, he was unable to devote his command 
as the forlorn hope upon which might follow a great 

Doubting Villencuve's resolution, Napoleon now changed 
the details of his combination; giving to the Toulon fleet 
the inferior role of a diversion, instead of the great part of 
covering the flotilla at the chief centre of strategic ac- 
tion. The Brest fleet, during the life of Latouche Tre- 
ville, had been destined to tie Cornwallis to the French 
coast by the passive service of a mere demonstration. It 
was now given the principal part. Its admiral, Gan- 
tcaume, had in 1801 been blamed for not relieving Egypt; 
but Napoleon still felt for him the partiality of close per- 
sonal association, and knew him to be an able officer. In 
the new plan, therefore, the Irish expedition passed defi- 
nitively from a demonstration to a resolve. To it were 
assigned eighteen thousand troops under Marshal Auge- 
reau. Embarking them, Ganteaume should sail with a 
fleet of twenty ships-of-the-line, pass far out into the At- 
lantic to baffle pursuit, and then head for the north of 
Ireland as though coming from Newfoundland. Having 
landed the soldiers, for which only thirty-six hours were 
allowed, the fleet should sail for the straits of Dover, 
either by the English Channel or by the north of Scotland, 
according to the winds. Arriving near its destination 
two courses were open, the choice between which would 
again depend on the wind. Either the Grand Army at 
Boulogne would cross at once to England, or a corps of 
twenty-five thousand assembled in Holland under General 
Marmont, would sail under Gantcaume's convoy for Ire- 
land. "With only eighteen thousand men in Ireland,'' 
wrote Napoleon, " we would run great risks ; but whether 
they be increased to forty thousand, or I myself be in 


England and eighteen thousand in Ireland, the gain of 
the war will be ours. " 1 

The Toulon and Rochefort squadrons were to favor 
these operations by a powerful diversion. They were to 
sail separately for the West Indies, the former numbering 
twelve of the line and the latter five. Upon reaching the 
Atlantic two of the Toulon ships were to be directed 
against St. Helena, which they were to seize and then 
cruise in its neighborhood for three months against Brit- 
ish commerce. The rest of the division, carrying four 
thousand troops, was to retake Dutch Guiana and re-en- 
force San Domingo, 2 if possible. The Rochefort division, 
lately, commanded by Villeneuve, but now by Missiessy, 
was to seize the islands Santa Lucia and Dominica, re- 
enforce Martinique and Guadaloupe and then join Ville- 
neuve. Thus combined, all would return to Europe, 
appear before Ferrol, releasing five French ships which 
were there blockaded, and finally anchor at Rochefort. 
"Thus attacked simultaneously in Asia, Africa, and 
America," wrote Napoleon, "the English, long accus- 
tomed not to suffer from the war, will by these successive 
shocks to their commerce feel the evidence of their weak- 
ness. I think that the sailing of these twenty ships-of- 
the-line will oblige them to dispatch over thirty in 
pursuit. " 3 Villeneuve was to sail by October 12, and 
Missiessy before November 1. The Irish expedition should 
await the departure of the others, but it was hoped might 
get away before November 23. 

This second combination was more vast, more compli- 
cated and therefore much more difficult than the first. It 
is interesting chiefly as indicating the transition in the 
emperor's mind, from the comparatively simple scheme 
laid down for Latouche Treville to the grandiose concep- 

1 Corr, de Nap., vol. ix. p. 700, Sept. 29, 1804. 

2 The former Spanish part of the island was still in the hands of France. 
8 Corr de Nap. Sept 27 and 29, 1804. 


tion which ended in Trafalgar and claimed Villeneuve as 
its victim. The course of events, mightier than the wills 
of sovereigns, now intervened to change again Napoleon's 
purpose and restore to the Toulon fleet the central part in 
the great drama. In December, 1804, formal war broke 
out between Great Britain and Spain. 

Spain since 1796 had been in defensive and offensive 
alliance with France. By the treaty of San Ildefonso, 
then signed, she had bound herself to furnish, upon the 
simple demand of the French government, fifteen ships- 
of-the-line to re-enforce the French navy, as well as a 
specified body of troops. Holland also had entered into a 
similar covenant " forever" against Great Britain. At 
the outbreak of hostilities, therefore, Bonaparte found on 
either flank a maritime state formally obliged to aid him, 
whatever its present wish. Holland, a small flat country 
near at hand, was easily dominated by his army. It was 
rich, had a valid government and energetic people; and 
its position admirably seconded his schemes against Great 
Britain. It therefore suited him to have the Batavian 
republic join in the war. Spain, on the contrary, being 
extensive and rugged, was with difficulty controlled by an 
armed force, as Napoleon afterwards learned to his cost. 
It was remote from the centre of his power and from the 
intended operations ; while effective military support could 
not be had from its government, feeble to disorganization, 
nor from its people, indolent and jealous of foreigners. 
One thing only was left to Spain of her former great- 
. — the silver poured into her treasury from her 

Bonaparte therefore decided to allow the neutrality of 
Spain, and to relinquish the stipulated aid in kind, upon 
condition of receiving an equivalent in money. This he 
fixed at six million francs per month, or about fourteen 
million dollars annually. Spain protested earnestly 
against the amount, but the first consul was inexorable. 


He required also that all levies of troops should cease, 
any land forces sent into the provinces adjoining France, 
since September, 1801, should be withdrawn, and the 
Spanish navy reorganized. Further, he demanded that 
five French ships-of-the-line then in Ferrol, where they 
had taken refuge from the British navy in July, 1803, 
when returning from Haiti, should be by Spain repaired 
and got ready for sea. "Spain," said Bonaparte, "has 
three alternatives: 1, she may declare war against Eng- 
land; 2, she may pay the specified subsidy; 3, war will 
be declared by France against Spain. " x 

When war began, the British minister at Madrid was in- 
structed to ask if Spain intended to furnish France the 
ships promised by the treaty. If the answer was yes, he 
was to express no opinion, but say that any excess over the 
stipulations would be regarded as a declaration of war. 
Later, when it became known that Spain had signed a con- 
vention 2 stipulating the payment of subsidies to France, 
the ministry took the ground that this was a just cause of 
war, whenever Great Britain chose so to consider it ; though 
for the time she might pass it over. " You will explain 
distinctly," ran the ambassador's instructions, dated No- 
vember 24, 1803, " that his Majesty can only be induced to 
abstain from immediate hostilities in consequence of such 
a measure, upon the consideration that it is a temporary 
expedient, . . . and that his Majesty must be at liberty to 
consider a perseverance in the system of furnishing suc- 
cors to France as, at any future period, when circumstances 
may render it necessary, a just cause of war." 3 "I am 
expressly enjoined to declare," wrote the British ambassa- 
dor, in making this communication, " that such payments 
are a war subsidy, a succor the most efficacious, the best 

1 For Bonaparte's attitude toward Spain, see two letters to Talleyrand, 
Aug. 14 and 16, 1803; Corr. de Nap. vol. viii. pp. 580-585. 

2 Signed Oct. 19, 1803. (Combate Naval de Trafalgar, by D. Jose de 
Couto, p. 79.) 

3 Tarl. Debates, 1805, vol. iii. p. 70. 


adapted "to the wants and situation of the enemy, the most 
prejudicial to the interests of his Britannic Majesty's sub- 
jects, and the most dangerous to his dominions ; in fine, 
more than equivalent to every other species of aggression." 1 
Repeated inquiries failed to draw from the Spanish gov- 
ernment any official statement of the terms of its bargain, 
either as to the amount of the subsidy, the period during 
which it should continue, or other conditions of the agree- 
ment. 2 Such communication the French ambassador posi- 
tively over-ruled. 3 

Warning was therefore early given 4 that a condition 
essential to postponement of action by Great Britain was 
the suspension of all further arming in Spanish ports. 
This was repeated in the most formal terms, and as an 
ultimatum, a few weeks later, on the 18th of February, 
1804. " I am ordered to declare to you that the system of 
forbearance on the part of England absolutely depends on 
the cessation of every naval armament, and I am expressly 
forbidden to prolong my residence here, if unfortunately 
this condition should be rejected." 5 It was alleged and 
was incontrovertibly true, that, while Spain was so evi- 
dently under Bonaparte's influence, armaments in her ports 
as effectively necessitated watching, and so as greatly added 
to Great Britain's burdens, as if war actually existed. 6 
Another complaint was that prizes made by French priva- 
teers were, by process of law, condemned and sold in 
Spanish ports. 7 The same was doubtless allowed to Great 
Britain ; but in the strict blockade of the ports of France 
the latter here derived a great benefit, while upon her 
enemy was simply imposed an additional burden in scour- 
ing all the Spanish coast, as though actually at war, in 
order to recapture inward-bound prizes. Once condemned, 

1 Pari. Debates, 1805, vol. iii. p. 72. 2 Ibid., p. 372. 

8 Ibid, p. 81. 

* Jan. 24, 1804 Ibid., p. 85. 6 Ibid., p. 89. 

• Ibid. 1 Ibid., pp. 85, 89. 


the prize goods found their way to the French ports by 
Spanish coasters. Independent of the difficulty of identify- 
ing the property, the small size of these neutral carriers 
made seizure inexpedient ; for the costs of condemnation 
were greater than the value of the prize. 1 The Spanish 
government claimed that the condemnation and sale of 
prize goods in their ports was simply an act of authorized 
commerce, free from all hostility. 2 Americans who recall 
the cruises of the Alabama and her fellows will be disposed 
to think that, whatever the technical accuracy of the plea, 
neutrality benevolent to an enemy's cruisers constitutes a 
just cause of war, whenever policy so advises. 

The relations between the two countries continued in 
this strained and critical condition during the greater part 
of 1804. Bonaparte insisted that the Spanish dockyards 
should repair the French ships in Ferrol and Cadiz, — 
which was indeed one of the conditions of the convention 
of October 19, 1803, concealed from Great Britain, — and 
should permit seamen to pass by land from one port of 
Spain to another, and from France through Spain, to com- 
plete their crews. He consented indeed that they should 
go in small bodies of thirty or forty, but the vigilance of 
the British officials could not be deceived. The relations 
between France and Spain at this time were not inaptly 
described in the letter of Napoleon to the king, announcing 
his assumption of the imperial dignity. He styled him 
therein " ally and confederate." In June, 1804, an aide- 
de-camp of the emperor visited Ferrol and Madrid, charged 
to ascertain the condition of the ships and demand their 
completion. 3 The British minister could obtain no explan- 
ation of this mission, which naturally aroused his atten- 

1 For some account of the advantages to French privateers arising from 
this use of Spanish ports, with interesting particulars, see Naval Chronicle, 
vol xiii p. 76. In March, 1804, Spain prohibited the sale of prizes in her 

2 Pari. Debates, 1805, vol iii p 86. 

3 Corr de Nap vol ix. p 482. 


tion. 1 Spain in truth was no longer a free agent. On the 
3d of July, Napoleon ordered his Minister of Marine to 
send to Ferrol the men still needed to man the ships there ; 
and on the 19th of the month 2 the British admiral Coch- 
rane, then blockading the port, remonstrated with the 
governor of Galicia upon this procedure as hostile to 
Great Britain. On the 3d of September, and again on the 
11th, Cochrane wrote to his government that Spanish ships 
in Ferrol were fitting for sea, that three first-rates were 
expected from Cadiz, and that no doubt remained that the 
French, Spanish, and Dutch ships in the port were to act 
together, He had consequently found necessary to concen- 
trate his force. 3 Immediately upon receiving this informa- 
tion, the British ministry notified the Spanish government 
that orders had been sent to their admiral off Ferrol to 
prevent any Spanish ships of war from entering or leaving 
that port. The ambassador at Madrid was directed to 
require that the armaments should be discontinued, and 
placed upon the same footing as before the war. He was 
also to demand a clear explanation of the relations existing 
between France and Spain. Unless satisfactory replies 
were given, he was ordered to quit Madrid. 

At the same time the ministry took a more questionable 
stej). Orders were sent to Cornwallis, to Cochrane, to 
Nelson, and to the naval officer off Cadiz to detain and 
send to England all Spanish treasure-ships; the inten- 
tion being to keep them as a pledge until satisfactory 
arrangements with Spain were made. In consequence of 
this, on the 5th of October, four British frigates stopped, 
near Cadiz, four Spanish vessels, of the same class but 
of inferior armament. The disparity of force was not 
great enough to justify the Spanish commodore in yield- 
ing; and an action followed in which one of his frigates 
blew up. The other three surrendered and were taken to 

1 Ptol Debates, 1805, vol. lii. p. 93 

2 Ibid, p 122. 3 Ibid., pp. 95, 122. 


England. Curiously enough, the news of this transaction 
had not reached Madrid when the British representative, 
on the 10th of November, left the city. The final dis- 
cussions between him and the Spanish government went 
on in complete ignorance of so decisive an event; but as 
he could get no explanation of the agreements between 
France and Spain, he persisted in demanding his pass- 
ports. On the 12th of December, 1804, Spain declared 

That Great Britain had just cause for war can scarcely 
be denied. She now for the first time came into contact 
with Napoleon's claim that it was, not merely the inter- 
est, but the bounden duty of every maritime state to join 
his attempt to crush her. 1 Upon this principle he jus- 
tified his policy of coercing all into such hostilities, and 
formulated at a later day the maxim, " There are no neu- 
trals. " The subsidy paid by Spain, calculated on British 
rates of expenditure, was annually worth to France fifteen 
ships-of-the-line and two hundred thousand troops; 2 but 
against Napoleon's further extension of his principle, by 
suddenly calling into activity the Spanish navy, Great 
Britain's only safeguard was to insist upon the latter's 
remaining unarmed. The Spanish government, having 
promised not to arm, suddenly and without explanation 
began to equip vessels in Ferrol, — an act which, coin- 
ciding with the passage of French seamen through Spain 
to that place, fairly excited alarm and justified the orders 
not to allow Spanish ships to enter or leave the port. 

The seizure of the treasure-ships is less easily excused, 
though the obloquy attending it has been unduly height- 
ened by the tragical explosion. Its best palliation lies 
in Great Britain's previous experience that, in the com- 
mercial decadence and poverty of Spain, the treasures of 
the colonies were a determining factor in negotiations. 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Emp. livre xvii. pp. 383, 384. 

2 Pitt's Speech of February 11, 1805. 


While they were on the sea, Spain temporized; when they 
arrived, she stiffened. The purpose was to retain them 
as a pledge, to be restored in case of a peaceable issue ; as 
Swedish merchantmen were embargoed in 1801, and re- 
leased when the Armed Neutrality dissolved. A Spanish 
naval historian, while censuring other acts of Great 
Britain, says: "The mere detention of the division from 
Ameriea, carrying specie which might boused in behalf 
of French preparations, could have been overlooked as an 
able and not very illegal means of bettering the prospects 
of the English reclamations, in consequence of the scanty 
satisfaction they obtained from our Court ; " and again • " If 
all the circumstances are impartially weighed, ... we 
shall see that all the charges made against England for 
the seizure of the frigates may be reduced simply to want 
of proper foresight in the strength of the force detailed to 
effect it." 1 The action, nevertheless, was precipitate, 
and extenuated by no urgent political necessity. Nelson, 
who certainly was not averse to strong measures, directed 
his captains to disobey the order, which he at first thought 
came only from Cornwallis ; for, he said, "I am clearly 
of the opinion that Spain has no wish to go to war with 
England." 2 

1 D. Jose de Couto, Combate Naval de Trafalgar (Madrid, 1851), pp. 
83, 89. 

-' N'ls. Digp., vol. vi. p. 240. This letter was not sent, Nelson soon after 
receiving the Admiralty's order. 


The Trafalgar Campaign — Concluded. 

January — October, 1805. 

Successive Modifications of Napoleon's Plan. — Narrative 
of Naval Movements. — Final Failure of Napoleon's 
Naval Combinations. — War with Austria, and Battle 
of austerlitz. — battle of trafalgar. — vltal change 
imposed upon Napoleon's Policy by the Result of the 
Naval Campaign- 

THE Spanish declaration of war was followed by a 
new treaty of alliance with France, signed in Paris 
on the 5th of January, 1805, and confirmed on the 18th of 
the month at Madrid. Spain undertook to furnish, by 
March 21, to the common cause, at least twenty- five ships - 
of-the-line and eleven frigates; but the military direction 
of the whole allied effort was entrusted to Napoleon. 

This accession of Spain could not become immediately 
operative, owing to the backward state of her armaments 
caused by the previous demands of Great Britain. The 
emperor therefore adhered for the time to his existing 
plans, formulated on the 27th and 29th of September. 
These proving abortive, he next framed, upon lines equal 
both in boldness and scope to those of the Marengo and 
Austerlitz campaigns, the immense combination which 
resulted in Trafalgar. 

The events of the ten following months, therefore, have 
an interest wholly unique, as the development of the only 
great naval campaign ever planned by this foremost cap- 
tain of modern times. From his opponents, also, upon 


whom was thrown the harder task of the defensive, was 
elicited an exhibition of insight, combination, prompti- 
tude, and decision, which showed them to be, on their 
own clement, not unworthy to match with the great em- 
peror. For Napoleon was at this disadvantage, — he could 
not fully realize the conditions of the sea. Accustomed 
by forethought and sheer will to trample obstacles under 
foot, remembering the midwinter passage of the Splugen 
made by Macdonald at his command, and the extraordi- 
nary impediments overcome by himself in crossing the 
Saint Bernard, he could not believe that the difficulties of 
the sea could not be vanquished by unskilled men hand- 
ling the ponderous machines entrusted to them, when con- 
fronted by a skilful enemy. To quote an able French 
writer: "But one thing was wanting to the victor of Aus- 
terlitz, — le sentiment exact des difficultes de la marine." 2 

With steam, possibly, this inequality of skill might have 
been so reduced as to enable the generalship of Napoleon, 
having also the advantage of the initiative, to turn the 
scale. With sailing ships it was not so; and in follow- 
ing the story of Trafalgar it must be remembered that 
the naval superiority of Great Britain lay not in the num- 
ber of her ships, but in the wisdom, energy, and tenacity 
of her admirals and seamen. At best her numbers were 
but equal to those arrayed against her. The real contest 
was between the naval combinations of Napoleon and the 
insight of British officers, avoiding or remedying the 
ex-centric movements he untiringly sought to impress 
upon their forces. 

In December detailed instructions for executing the 
plan of September 29 were issued to Admirals Villeneuve 
and Missiessy. 2 The latter, after leaving Rochefort, was 
to steer between the Azores and Canaries, so as to avoid the 
British squadrons off the Biscay coast of Spain, go direct 

1 Jurien de la Graviere, Revue des Deux Mondes, Oct. 1887, p. 611. 

2 Correspondance de Napoleon, vol x. pp. 79-97. 


to Martinique, take the British islands Santa Lucia and 
Dominica, and upon Villeneuve's arrival place himself 
under his command. In pursuance of these orders Missi- 
essy escaped from Rochefort on January 11. He was seen 
next day by a lookout vessel belonging to the blockading 
squadron ; but the latter, for whatever reason, was off its 
post, and Missiessy reached Martinique safely on the 20th 
of February. On the 24th of that month six British 
ships-of-the-line, under Rear-Admiral Cochrane, sailed 
in pursuit from before Ferrol ; where their place was 
taken by a detachment of equal force drawn from before 

Villeneuve's orders were to go from Toulon direct to 
Cayenne, recapture the former Dutch colonies of Guiana, 
form a junction with Missiessy, re-enforce San Domingo, 
and start on his return for Europe not later than sixty days 
after reaching South America. With the combined squad- 
rons he was to appear off Ferrol, release the French ships 
there blockaded, and bring the whole force, amounting to 
twenty of the line, to Rochefort. "The result of your 
cruise," wrote Napoleon to him, "will be to secure our 
colonics against any attack, and to retake the four Dutch 
colonies on the Continent, as well as such other British 
islands as may appear open to the force under your com- 
mand. " Six thousand troops were embarked on board 
his squadron for the operations on shore. Both he and 
Missiessy were expressly forbidden to land their crews 
for that purpose ; a decision of the great emperor worthy 
to be remembered in these days. 

Villeneuve was ready to sail early in January, but his 
first need was to elude the watchfulness of Nelson. The 
British admiral was known to move from point to point in 
his command, between the Maddalena Islands and Cape San 
Sebastian on the Spanish coast, while he kept before Tou- 
lon lookout ships always informed of his whereabouts. 
Villeneuve therefore thought indispensable to start with 


a breeze strong enough to carry him a hundred miles the 
first night. For a fortnight the wind hung at north-east 
and south-east — fair but very light; but on the 17th of 
January it shifted to north-west, with signs of an ap- 
proaching gale. The next morning Villcneuve sent a 
division to drive off the enemy's lookouts; and when 
these disappeared the squadron sailed, numbering ten of 
the line and seven frigates. Nelson with eleven ships-of- 
the-line was at the moment at anchor in Maddalena Bay. 

Following Napoleon's plan for deceiving the British 
admiral, the French squadron steered for the south end of 
Sardinia, as though bound eastward. During the night 
it was dogged by the enemy's frigates, which had retired 
no further than was necessary to avoid capture. At ten 
o'clock they were close by, and at two in the morning, 
satisfied as to the French course, they parted company 
and hastened to Nelson, — the wind then blowing a whole 
gale from the north-west. Twelve hours later they were 
seen from the flag-ship with the signal flying that the 
enemy was at sea, and in two hours more the British fleet 
was under way Unable to beat out by the western en- 
trance in the teeth of the storm, it ran in single column 
through the narrow eastern pass as night fell, — Nelson's 
ship leading, the others steering by the poop lanterns of 
the vessel next ahead. When clear of the port the fleet 
hauled up to the southward, and during the night, which 
was unsettled and squally, kept along the east coast of 
Sardinia. The frigate " Seahorse " was sent ahead to pass 
round the south end of the island and get touch again of 
the enemy. 

During the night the wind changed to south-south-west, 
and blew heavily throughout the 21st. On the forenoon 
of the 22d the fleet, still struggling against a heavy 
southwesterly gale, was fifty miles east of the south end 
of Sardinia. There it was rejoined by the "Seahorse," 
which the day before had caught sight of a French frigate 


standing in toward Cagliari, but had not seen the main 
body. Not till the 26th did Nelson reach Cagliari, where 
to his relief he found the French had not been. Nothing 
even was known of their movements ; but the same day the 
frigate " Phoebe" joined from the westward with news that 
a French eighty-gun ship, partially dismasted, had put in 
to Ajaccio. The British fleet then stretched across to 
Palermo, where it arrived on the 28th. Having now 
fairly covered the approaches from the westward to Sar- 
dinia, Sicily, and Naples, Nelson reasoned that one of two 
things must have happened: either the French, despite 
the southerly gale, had succeeded in going east between 
Sicily and Africa, or they had put back disabled. In the 
latter case he could not now overtake them ; in the former, 
he must follow. 1 Accordingly, after sending scouts to 
scour the seas, and three frigates to resume the watch off 
Toulon, he shaped his course along the north side of 
Sicily, and on the 30th of January passed through the 
straits of Messina on his way to Egypt. 

Villeneuve had in fact returned to Toulon. On the 
first night an eighty-four-gun ship and three frigates sepa- 
rated, and the former put in dismasted to Ajaccio, as 
Nelson had learned. The following day and in the night, 
when the wind shifted to south-west, three more ships-of- 
the-line were crippled. Forced to the eastward by the 
gale, and aware that two enemy's frigates had marked his 
course, the admiral feared that he should meet the British 
at a disadvantage and determined to retreat. 

Thus prematurely ended the first movement in Napo- 
leon's naval combination for the invasion of England. 
The Rochefort squadron had escaped only to become a big 
detachment, wholly out of reach of support or recall. The 
Toulon fleet, forced to await a heavy wind in order to 
effect the evasion by which alone the combination could 
be formed, was through the inexperience of its seamen 

1 Nelson's Dispatches, vol. vi p. 333. 


crippled by the very advantage it had secured. In truth, 
however, had it gone on, it would almost infallibly have 
been driven by the south-west gale into the very spot, 
between Sardinia and Sicily, where Nelson went to seek 
it, and which was ransacked by his lookouts. 1 Neither 
Villeneuve nor Nelson doubted the result of such meeting. 2 
The other factor in this combination, the Brest fleet 
and army corps of twenty thousand men, had been held in 
readiness to act, dependent upon the successful evasion of 
the two others. "I calculate," Napoleon had said, "that 
the sailing of twenty ships from Rochefort and Toulon 
will force the enemy to send thirty in pursuit;" 3 a diver- 
sion that would very materially increase the chances for 
the Brest armament. For a moment he spoke of sending 
to India this powerful body, strongly re-enforced from the 
French and Spanish ships in Ferrol. 4 This was, how- 
ever, but a passing thought, rejected by his sound military 
instinct as an ex-centric movement, disseminating his 
force and weakening the purposed attack upon the heart 
of the British power. Three months later, when he began 
to fear failure for the latter attempt, he recurred to the 
East India project in terms which show why he at first 
laid it aside. "In case, through any event whatsoever, 
our expedition have not full success, and I cannot com- 
pass the greatest of all ends, which will cause all the rest to 
fall, 5 I think we must calculate the operation in India for 
September." 6 India in truth was to the imagination of 
Napoleon what Egypt was to Nelson, — an object which 

1 After writing these words the author noted Nelson's opinion to the same 
effoct " Had they not been crippled, nothing could have hindered our meet- 
ing them on January 21, off the soutli end of Sardinia." (Dispatches, vol. vi. 

* Villeneuve's opinion see Chevalier's Hist, de la Mar. Fran, sous 
l'Kmpire, p. 1.34 , for Nelson's, Disp. vol. vi. pp. 334, 339. 

8 Corr de Nap., vol. ix. p. 701. * j^d., Jan. 16, 1805. 

5 Compare with Nelson's views on attacking Russian fleet, ante, p. 46. 

6 Corr. de Nap., April 29, 1805, vol. x. p. 443. 
VOL. II. — 10 


colored all his ideas and constantly misled him. As 
was shrewdly said by an American citizen to the Brit- 
ish government, in this very month of January, 1805, 
"The French in general believe that the fountains of 
British wealth are in India and China. They never ap- 
peared to me to understand that the most abundant source 
is in her agriculture, her manufactures, and the foreign 
demand. " 1 This impression Napoleon fully shared, and 
it greatly affected his judgment during the coming 

The return of Villeneuve and the delay necessary to 
repair his ships, concurring with the expected re-enforce- 
ments from Spain, wholly changed the details of Napo- 
leon's plan. In essence it remained the same from first 
to last; but the large number of ships now soon to be 
at his command appealed powerfully to his love for great 
masses and wide combinations. Now, also, Villeneuve 
could not reach the West Indies before the sickly season. 

The contemplated conquests in America, which had 
formed so important a part of the first plan, were there- 
fore laid aside, and so was also the Irish expedition by 
Ganteaume's fleet. The concentration of naval forces in 
the West Indies or at some point exterior to France be- 
came now the great aim; and the sally of the various 
detachments, before intended to favor the crossing of the 
flotilla by a diversion, was now to be the direct means of 
covering it, by bringing them to the English Channel and 
before Boulogne. The operations were to begin in March ; 
and urgent orders were sent to Spain to have the contin- 
gents in her several ports ready to move at a moment's 

The situations of the squadrons in March, when the 

1 Letter to Pitt by Robert Francis ; Castlereagh's Memoirs, vol. v. p. 444. 
The whole letter is most suggestive, not to say prophetic. From internal 
indications it is extremely probable that the writer of these letters, signed 
Robert Francis, was Robert Fulton, though the fact is not mentioned in any 
of his biographies. 


great Trafalgar campaign opened, need to be stated. 
On the extreme right, in the Texel, were nine ships-of- 
the-line with a due proportion of lighter vessels; and 
some eighty transports lay ready to embark Marmont's 
army corps of twenty-five thousand men. 1 The Boulogne 
flotilla was assembled; the few detachments still absent 
being so near at hand that their junction could be confi- 
dently expected before the appearance of the covering 
fleet. The army, one hundred and thirty thousand strong, 
was by frequent practice able to embark In two hours. 2 
Two tides were needed for all the boats to clear the ports; 
but as word of the fleet's approach would precede its arri- 
val, they could haul out betimes and lie in the open sea, 
under the batteries, ready to start. In Brest, Ganteaume 
had twenty-one ships-of -the -line. The Rochefort squad- 
ron was now in the West Indies with Missiessy; but two 
more ships were ready in that port and one in Lorient. 
In Ferrol were five French and ten Spanish ; of the latter 
it was expected that six or eight could sail in March. In 
Cadiz the treaty called for twelve or fifteen to be ready at 
the same time, but only six were then actually able to 
move. There was also in Cadiz one French ship. In 
Cartagena were six Spaniards, which, however, took no 
part in the campaign. At Toulon Villcneuve would have 
eleven ships. All these were ships-of-the-line. The 
total available at the opening of the campaign was there- 
fore sixty-seven; but it will be observed that they were 
disseminated in detachments, and that the strategic prob- 
lem was, first, to unite them in the face of an enemy that 
controlled the communications, and, next, to bring them 
to the strategic centre. 

As in 1T9G, the declaration of Spain in 1805 added im- 
mensely to the anxieties of Great Britain. Lord Melville, 
who succeeded St. Vincent as First Lord in May, 1804, 

1 Memoires du Due de Ragnse, vol. ii. p. 261. 

2 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., voL v. p. 413. 


had at once contracted for several skips-of-the-line to be 
built in private yards; 1 but these were not yet ready. A 
somewhat singular expedient was then adopted to utilize 
worn-out vessels, twelve of which were in February, 1805, 
cased with two-inch oak plank, and with some additional 
bracing sent to sea. It is said some of these bore a part 
in the battle of Trafalgar. 2 

The disposition and strength of the British detachments 
varied with the movements of the enemy and with the in- 
creasing strength of their own navy. Lord Keith, in the 
Downs with eleven small ships-of-the-line, watched the 
Texel and the Straits of Dover. The Channel fleet under 
Cornwall is held Brest under lock and key, with a force 
varying from eleven, when the year began, to twenty or 
twenty-four in the following April. This was the centre 
of the great British naval line. Off Rochefort no squadron 
was kept after Missicssy's escape. In March that event 
had simply transferred to the West Indies five French and 
six British ships. Off Ferrol eight ships were watching 
the combined fifteen in the port. In October, when the 
Spanish war was threatening, a division of six was sent to 
blockade Cadiz. Nelson's command, which had before 
extended to Cape Finisterre, was now confined to Gibraltar 
as its western limit, and the Cadiz portion assigned to Sir 
John Orde, — a step particularly invidious to Nelson, de- 
priving him of the most lucrative part of his station, in 
favor of one who was not only his senior, with power to 
annoy him, but reputed to be his personal enemy. Nelson 
had within the Straits twelve of the line, several of which, 
however, were in bad condition; and one, kept perma- 
nently at Naples for political reasons, was useless to him. 
Two others were on their way to join, but did not arrive 
before the campaign opened. It may be added that there 
were in India from eight to ten ships-of-the-line, and in 

1 Barrow's Autobiography, p. 263. 

2 Ibid. Nav. Chron., vol. xiii. p. 328. 


the West Indies four, which Cochrane's arrival would 
raise to ten. 1 

On the 2d of March Napoleon issued specific orders for 
the campaign to Villeneuve and Ganteaume. The latter, 
who was to command-in-chief after the junction, was di- 
rected to sail at the first moment possible with his twenty- 
one ships, carrying besides their crews thirty-six hundred 
troops. He was to go first to Ferrol, destroy or drive off 
the blockading squadron, and be joined by the French and 
Spanish ships there ready ; thence by the shortest route 
to Martinique, where he was to be met by Villeneuve and, 
it was hoped, by Missiessy also. If Villeneuve did not 
at once appear, he was to be awaited at least thirty days. 
When united, the whole force, amounting to over forty 
of the line, would, to avoid detection, steer for the Channel 
by an unusual route and proceed direct to Boulogne, where 
the emperor expected it between June 10 and July 10. 
If by Villeneuve's not coming, or other cause, Ganteaume 
found himself with less than twenty-five ships, he was to 
go to Ferrol ; where it would be the emperor's care to 
able a re-enforcement. He might, however, even 
with so small a number, move straight on Boulogne if he 
thought advisable. 2 

Villeneuve's orders were to sail at the earliest date for 
Cadiz, where he was not to enter but be joined outside by 
the ships then ready. From Cadiz he was to go to Mar- 
ti n i< pie, and there wait forty days for Ganteaume. If the 
latter did not then appear he was to call at San Domingo, 
land some troops and thence go to the Bay of Santiago in 
the Canary Islands, 3 where he would cruise twenty days. 
This provided a second rendezvous where Ganteaume could 

1 The above account depends mainly upon the " Naval Chronicle " for April 
15, 1805; vol. xiii. pp. 365-367, — checked by James and other sources, 
■rr. de Nap., vol. x. p. 227. 

3 So in the orders. Corr. de Nap., vol. x. p. 232. At a later date this ren- 
dezvous is spoken of by Napoleon as in the Cape de Verde. (Corr. de Nap., 
vol. xi p. 50.) A singular confusion in such important orders. 


join, if unexpectedly delayed in Brest. The emperor, 
like all French rulers, did not wish to risk his fleet in 
battle with nearly equal forces. Whatever the result, his 
combinations would suffer. "I prefer," said he, "the 
rendezvous at Martinique to any other ; but I also prefer 
Santiago to a junction before Brest, by raising the block- 
ade, in order to avoid fighting of any kind. " x When 
Ganteaume, at a most critical instant, only six days be- 
fore Villeneuve got away, reported that he was ready, — 
that there were but fifteen British ships in the offing and 
success was sure, — Napoleon replied: " A naval victory 
now would lead to nothing. Have but one aim, — to fulfil 
your mission. Sail without fighting." 2 So to the old 
delusion of ulterior objects was sacrificed the one chance 
for compassing the junction essential to success. By 
April 1 the British fleet off Brest was increased to twenty- 
one sail. 

Meanwhile Nelson had returned from his fruitless search 
at Alexandria, and on the 13th of March again appeared 
off Toulon. Thence he went to Cape San Sebastian, 
showing his ships off Barcelona to convince the enemy he 
was fixed on the coast of Spain; reasoning that if they 
thought him to the westward they would more readily 
start for Egypt, which he still believed to be their aim. 
He had by his communications with Alexandria learned 
the distracted state of that country since the destruction 
of the Mameluke power and its restoration to the Turks, 
and reported that the French could easily hold it, if they 
once effected a lodgment. 3 From Cape San Sebastian the 
fleet next went to the Gulf of Palmas, a convenient road- 
stead in the south of Sardinia, to fill with provisions from 
transports lately arrived. It anchored there on the 26th 
of March, but was again at sea when, at 8 a. m. of April 
4, being then twenty miles west of the Gulf, a frigate 

i Corr de Nap., vol. x. p. 447. 2 Ibid., 324. 

3 Nels. Disp., vol. vi. pp. 338-341. 


brought word of the second sailing of the Toulon fleet. 
When hist seen, in the evening of March 31, it was sixty 
miles south of Toulon, steering south with a north-west 
wind. One of the pair of lookouts was then sent to 
Nelson ; and the other, losing sight of the enemy during 
the night, joined him a few hours after the first. The 
only clue she cauld give was that, having herself steered 
south-west with a wind from west-north-west, the enemy 
hud probably kept on south or borne away to the eastward. 
Nelson, therefore, took the fleet midway between Sardinia 
and the African coast, scattering lookout ships along the 
line between these two points. 1 He was thus centrally 
placed to cover everything east of Sardinia, and with means 
of speedy information if the French attempted to pass, 
at any point, the line occupied by him. 

Villeneuve had indeed headed as reported by the British 
frigates, swayed by Nelson's ruse in appearing off Barce- 
lona. 2 Believing the enemy off Cape San Sebastian, he 
meant to go east of the Balearic Islands. The next day, 
April 1, a neutral ship informed him that it had seen the 
British fleet south of Sardinia. The wind fortunately 
hauling to the eastward, Villeneuve changed his course to 
north of the Balearics ; and on the 6th of April, when 
Nelson was watching for him between Sardinia and Africa, 
lie appeared off Cartagena. The Spanish division there 
declined to join him, having no instructions from its gov- 
ernment; and the French fleet, continuing at once with a 
fresh easterly wind, passed Gibraltar on the 8th. On the 
9th it reached Cadiz, driving away Orde's squadron. 
Following his orders strictly, Villeneuve anchored out- 
side; the port; and was there at once joined by the French 
s-venty-four "l'Aigle," and six Spanish ships. During 
the night the combined force of eighteen of the line sailed 
for Martinique, where; it anchored May 14, after a passage 

1 Nelson's Dispatches, vol. vi. p. 31)7. 

2 Chevalier, Mar. Fran, sous l'Empire, p. 142. 


of thirty-four days. Some Spanish ships separated the day 
after sailing; but, having sealed instructions giving the 
rendezvous, they arrived only two days later than the 
main body. 

This sortie of Villeneuve had so far been exceptionally 
happy. By a mere accident he had learned Nelson's posi- 
tion, while that admiral was misled by what seems to 
have been bad management on the part of his carefully 
placed lookouts. Nelson was not prone to blame subor- 
dinates, but he apparently felt he had not been well served 
in this case. Not till April 16, when Villeneuve was al- 
ready six days on his way from Cadiz, did he learn from 
a passing ship that nine days before the French were seen 
off Cape de Gata, on the coast of Spain, steering west- 
ward with an east wind, evidently bound to the Atlantic. 
To this piece of great good luck Villeneuve's fortune 
added another. While he carried an east wind with him 
till clear of the Straits, Nelson, from the 4th of April to 
the 19th, had a succession of strong westerly gales. " We 
have been nine days coming two hundred miles," he 
wrote. "For a whole month we have had nothing like a 
Levanter except for the French fleet. " 1 Not till May 6, 
after a resolute struggle of over three weeks against con- 
trary fortune, did he anchor his fleet in Gibraltar Bay. 
Five days later he was on his way to the West Indies. 
But while the escape from Toulon showed the impossibil- 
ity of securing every naval detachment of the enemy, the 
events elsewhere happening proved the extreme difficulty 
of so timing the evasions as to effect a great combination. 
While Villeneuve with eighteen ships was hastening to 
the West Indies, Missicssy, 2 with five others, having very 
imperfectly fulfilled his mission to annoy the enemy's 
islands, was speeding back to Rochefort, where orders at 

1 Nelson's Dispatches, vol. vi. pp. 410, 411, 415. 

2 See ante, p. 142. Missiessy sailed from the West Indies in the same 
week that Villeneuve sailed for them. 


once to retrace his steps were waiting. At the same time 
Ganteaume with his twenty-one was hopelessly locked in 
Brest. Amid all the difficulties of their task, the British 
fleets, sticking close to the French arsenals, not only tem- 
pered their efficiency for war to the utmost toughness, but 
reaped also the advantages inseparable from interior 

The better to divert attention from his real designs, 
Napoleon took the time appointed for his squadrons' sail- 
ing to visit Italy. Leaving Paris April 1, and journeying 
leisurely, he was in Alessandria on the first of May and 
in Milan on the 10th. There he remained a month, and 
was on the 26th crowned king of the late Italian Repub- 
lic. His stay in Italy was prolonged to July. It is prob- 
ably to this carefully timed absence that we owe the full 
and invaluable record of his hopes and fears, of the naval 
combinations which chased each other through his tireless 
mind, of the calculations and surmises — true or false, 
but always ingenious — which are contained in his almost 
daily letters to the Minister of Marine. 

Prominent among his preoccupations were the deten- 
tion of Ganteaume, — who, "hermetically blockaded and 
thwarted by constant calms," 1 could not get away, — and 
the whereabouts of Nelson, who disappeared from his sight 
as entirely, and from his knowledge far more completely, 
than Villeneuve did from the British ken. "In God's 
name ! hurry my Brest squadron away, that it may have 
time to join Villeneuve. Nelson has been again deceived 
and gone to Egypt. Villeneuve was out of sight on the 
10th of April. Send him word that Nelson is seeking 
him in Egypt; I have sent the same news to Ganteaume 
by a courier. God grant, however, that he may not find 
him in Brest." 2 On the loth of April Ganteaume did 
make an attempt. The British fleet had been driven off 

1 Corr. de Nap., April 13, 1805, vol. x. p. 390. 

2 Ibid, April 20 and 23. 


by a gale on the 11th, but reappeared on the 13th. On 
the afternoon of the 14th word was brought to Admiral 
Gardner, who had temporarily relieved Cornwallis, that 
the French were getting under way. The next day they 
came 'out; but the enemy now numbered twenty -four sail 
to their twenty-one, and after a demonstration they retired 
within the port. 

As the advancing season gave less and less hope of the 
blockade relaxing, Napoleon formed a new combination. 
Two ships-of-the-line, now nearly ready at Rochefori, 
should sail under Rear-Admiral Magon, carrying modi- 
fied instructions to Villeneuve. The latter was now com- 
manded to wait thirty-five days after Magon's arrival, and 
then, if Ganteaume had not appeared, return direct to 
Ferrol, discarding the alternative rendezvous of Santiago. 
At Ferrol he would find fifteen French and Spanish ships, 
making with his own and Magon's a total of thirty-five. 
With these he was to appear before Brest, where Gan- 
teaume would join him, and with the combined force of 
fifty-six of the line at once enter the Channel. Magon 
sailed with these orders early in May, and on June 4 
reached Villeneuve just in time to insure the direction 
given by the latter to his fleet upon its return. To facili- 
tate the junction at Brest very heavy batteries were 
thrown up, covering the anchorage outside the Goulet ; 
and there, in May, Ganteaume took up his position, cov- 
ered by one hundred and fifty guns on shore. 

It will be recognized that the emperor's plan, while 
retaining its essential features, had now undergone a 
most important modification, due to the closeness of the 
British blockade of Brest. A combination of his squad- 
rons still remained the key-stone of the fabric; but the 
tenacity with which the largest of his detachments was 
held in check had forced him to accept — what he had re 
jected as least advantageous — a concentration in the Bay 
of Biscay, the great hive where swarmed the British navy. 


It became therefore more than ever desirable to divert 
as many as possible of the enemy's cruisers from those 
waters ; an object which now continuously occupied Napo- 
leon's mind and curiously tinged his calculations with the 
color of his hopes. In defiance of statistics, he thought 
the East Indies, as has before been said, the first of Brit- 
ish interests. He sought therefore to raise alarms about 
India, and persisted in believing that every division sail- 
ing from England was bound there. "Cochrane," he 
writes on April 13, "was before Lisbon on March 4. He 
must first have gone to the Cape de Verde, thence to Ma- 
deira, and if he gets no information he will go to India. 
That is what any admiral of sense would do in his case." * 
On the 10th of May, when Cochrane had been over a 
month in the West Indies, he reiterates this opinion, and 
at the same time conjectures that five thousand troops 
which sailed from England on the loth of April with 
most secret orders were gone to the Cape of Good Hope. 
u Fears of Villeneuvc's meeting this expedition will force 
them to send more ships to India," 2 On the 31st of May 
he guesses that eight ships-of-the-line, which sailed ten 
days before under Collingwood, were bound to India, 3 and 
a week later repeats the surmise emphatically: "The 
responsibility of the ministers is so great they cannot but 
send him to the East Indies." 4 On the 9th of June he 
writes : 4 * Everything leads me to believe the English sent 
fifteen ships to the East Indies, when they learned that 
Cochrane reached Barbadoes a fortnight after Missiessy 
sailed; and in that case it is quite possible Nelson has 
been sent to America." 5 This opinion is repeated on the 
13th and 14th; and on the 28th, as the veil was about to 
fall from his eyes, he sums up the acute reasoning which, 
starting from a false premise, had so misled him: "It is 
difficult to believe that without any news the English have 

1 O.rr do Nap., vol. x. p. 394. 2 Ibid., p 490. 

8 Ibid., p 571. « Ibid. p. 616. & Ibid., p. 624. 


sent seventeen ships-o-f-the-line (i. e. Nelson and Colling- 
wood combined) to the West Indies, when Nelson, joining 
his ten to Cochrane's six, and three at Jamaica, would 
have nineteen — superior to our squadron; while Colling- 
wood going to the East Indies with eight and finding 
there nine, in all seventeen, also superior to us — it is 
difficult, I say, to believe that the enemy, with the chance 
of being everywhere superior, should blindly abandon the 
East Indies. " l 

Some French writers, 2 as well as some English, have 
disparaged the insight of Nelson, comparing him unfavor- 
ably with Napoleon, and basing their estimate largely upon 
his error in esteeming Egypt the aim of the French. In 
view of the foregoing extracts, and of other miscalcula- 
tions made by the emperor during this remarkable cam- 
paign — which will appear farther on — it must be admitted 
that when in the dark, without good information, both were 
forced to inferences, more or less acute, but which, rest- 
ing on no solid data, rose, as Nelson said, little above 
guesses. So also Collingwood has been credited with 
completely unravelling Napoleon's plan, and his penetra- 
tion has been exalted above Nelson's because, after the 
latter's return from chasing Villeneuve to the West Indies, 
he wrote that the flight there was to take off the British 
naval force ; overlooking his conjecture, two lines before, 
that (not England, but) " Ireland is the real mark and butt 
of all these operations." Rather might each adopt for 
himself Napoleon's own words, " I have so often in my life 
been mistaken that I no longer blush for it. " 3 When his 
frigates lost sight of Villeneuve, on the night of March 31, 
Nelson went neither east nor west ; he concentrated his force 
to cover what he thought the most likely objects of the 
enemy, and awaited information as to his movements. " I 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. x. p. 708. 

2 For example, Thiers, Cons, et Emp., liv. xx. p. 178 ; Jurien de la Graviere, 
Guerres Maritimes, vol. ii. p. 224 (first edition). 

3 Corr. de Nap., vol. xi. p. 162. 


shall neither go to the eastward of Sicily nor to the west- 
ward of Sardinia until I know something positive." 1 It 
can be confidently said that under like conditions Napoleon 
would have done the same. 

The fault of Napoleon's calculations was in over-esti- 
mating both the importance and the danger of India, and 
also in not allowing for the insight and information of the 
British government. He himself laid down, with his pe- 
culiarly sound judgment, the lines it ought to follow: "It* 
I had been in the British Admiralty, I would have sent a 
light squadron to the East and West Indies, and formed 
a strong fleet of twenty of the line which I would not have 
dispatched until I knew Villeneuve's destination." 2 This 
was just what the Admiralty did. A light squadron was 
on its way to India, and eight ships were ordered to the 
West Indies under Collingwood ; but that able officer, 
finding Nelson had started, contented himself with send- 
ing two to re-enforce him, and took up his own position 
with six before Cadiz, thus blocking the junction of the 
Cartagena ships. The strong body of twenty was kept 
before Brest, much to Napoleon's annoyance. "If Eng- 
land realizes the serious game she is playing, she ought 
to raise the blockade of Brest. " 3 But here, as with regard 
to the Indian expeditions, Napoleon's thought was fathered 
by his wish. To weaken the Brest blockade, as he con- 
fessed a little later, was the great point for France. 4 

Nothing in fact is more noteworthy, nor more creditable, 
than the intelligence and steadiness with which the Brit- 
ish naval authorities resisted Napoleon's efforts to lead 
them into ex-centric movements. This was partly due to 

1 Nels. Disp., vol. vi. p. 401. In a former work ("The Influence of Sea 
Power upon History," p 23), the author casually spoke of this as a false step, 
into which Nelson had been misled. A closer study has convinced him that 
the British admiral did quite right. 

- Curr. de Nap , vol. x p. 624. Compare this with Nelson's remark, just 

8 Ccrr. de Nap., vol. x. p. 624. 4 Ibid , June 22, 1805, p. 686. 


an accurate judgment of the worth of the enemy's de- 
tached squadrons, partly to an intuitive sense of the 
supreme importance of the Biscay positions, and partly to 
information much more accurate than Napoleon imagined, 
or than he himself received in naval transactions. " Those 
boasted English, " jeered he, when he thought them igno- 
rant of Villeneuve's second sailing, "who claim to know 
of everything, who have agents everywhere, couriers booted 
and spurred everywhere, knew nothing of it. " 1 Yet, 
by a singular coincidence, on the very day, April 25, that 
they were supposed thus deceived, the Admiralty were 
hurrying letters to Nelson and to the West Indies with 
the important tidings. "You reason," wrote he to De- 
cres, " as if the enemy were in the secret. " 2 This is just 
what they were, — not as to all details, but as to the main 
features of his plans. While the emperor was wildly 
reckoning on imaginary squadrons hastening to India, and 
guessing where Nelson was, both the latter and his govern- 
ment knew where Villeneuve had gone, and the British 
admiral was already in the West Indies. About the be- 
ginning of May it was known in England not only that 
the Toulon fleet had sailed, but whither it was bound; 3 
and about the first of June, despite the cautions about 
secrecy imposed by Bonaparte, the British were informed 
by a prisoner that "the combined fleet, of sixty sail-of-the- 
line, will fight our fleet (balayer la Manche), while the 
large frigates will come up channel to convoy the flotilla 
over. The troops are impatiently awaiting the appearance 
of the ships to set them free. " 4 

The Admiralty therefore understood as well as did 
Napoleon that the crucial necessity in their dispositions 

1 Nap. to Decres, May 10, 1805. 

2 Corr. de Nap., June 9, p. 624. 

3 Annual Register, 1805, p. 225 ; Naval Chronicle, vol. xiii. p. 399. 

4 Naval Chronicle, vol. xiii. p. 484. The expression " balayer la Manche " 
— sweep the Channel — is far stronger than the Chronicle's translation, which 
is preserved in the quotation. 


was to prevent the combination of the enemy's squadrons, 
and that the chief scene of operations would be the Bay of 
Biscay and the approaches to the Channel. They con- 
tented themselves, consequently, with strengthening the 
force there, and keeping before Cadiz alone a detachment 
under Collingwood, lest a concentration in that port should 
compel them to weaken the Biscay squadrons. At the 
time Villeneuve sailed, an expedition of five thousand 
troops, whose destination was kept profoundly secret, was 
ready to start for the Mediterranean. This re-enforcement 
secured the naval bases of Gibraltar and Malta, and the 
Mediterranean otherwise was abandoned to frigates, sup- 
ported by two or three ships-of-the-line. Herein also the 
practice of the Admiralty agreed with the precept of Napo- 
leon. " The Mediterranean, " wrote he on June 7 to his 
Minister of Marine, "is now nothing. I would rather see 
there two of Villcneuve's ships than forty;" and he added 
the pregnant counsel, which was exemplified by the Brit- 
ish action, " It seems to me your purpose is not exclusive 
enough for a great operation. You must correct this 
fault, for that is the art of great successes and of great 

The secret expedition was met by Nelson just as he 
started for the West Indies. During his heavy beat down 
the Mediterranean he too, as carefully as Napoleon, had 
been studying the field on which he was to act; but while 
the one planned with all the freedom and certainty of an 
offensive, which, disposing of large means, moves upon 
a known object, the other, though in a restricted sphere, 
underwent the embarrassments of the defensive, ignorant 
where the blow was to fall. One clear light, however, 
Bhone step by step on his path, — wherever the French fleet 
rone there should he go also. 

The west wind which delayed his progress brought 
swiftly to him, on April 19, a vessel 1 from Gibraltar, with 

1 Apparently a prize. (Nels. Disp., vol vi. p. 410.) 


word that, two hours after Villeneuve passed the Straits, 
a frigate had started for England with the news, and that 
the French and Spaniards had sailed together from Cadiz. 
From this circumstance he reasoned, accurately, that the 
destination was the British Islands; ] but he did not pen- 
etrate the deep design of a concentration in the West 
Indies. He therefore sent the frigate " Amazon " ahead 
of the fleet to Lisbon, to gather news and rejoin him off 
Cape St. Vincent; and by her he wrote the Admiralty, 
and also to the admirals off Brest and in Ireland, that 
he should take position fifty leagues west of the Scilly 
Islands, and thence steer slowly toward them. To any 
person who will plot this position on a map it will be ap- 
parent that, with winds prevailing from the westward, he 
would there be, as he said, equally well situated to reach 
Brest or Ireland ; in short, in an excellent strategic 
position known to the authorities at home. 

Stopping but four hours at Gibraltar on May 6, on 
the 9th he was off Cape St. Vincent, and there received 
news that the combined squadrons, to the number of eigh- 
teen of the line, had gone to the West Indies. His concern 
was great, for he fully understood the value of those isl- 
ands. He had served there, knew them intimately, and 
had married there. Not a year before he had written, " If 
our islands should fall, England would be so clamorous 
for peace that we should humble ourselves. " 2 Still, 
with all his anxiety, he kept his head. The convoy of 
troops was close at hand, he must provide for its safety. 
On the 11th of May it arrived, Nelson's fleet being then 
under way. To the two ships-of-the-line guarding it he 
added a third, the "Royal Sovereign," whose bad sailing 
delayed him; and to this circumstance it was owing that 
that ship, newly coppered, bore Collingwood's flag far in 
advance of either British column into the fire at Trafalgar. 
Three hours after the convoy's junction, at 7 p.m. of May 

1 Nels. Disp, vol. vi. p 411. 2 Ibid., Sept. 6, 1804. 


11, Nelson with ten ships was on his way to the West 
Indies, to seek eighteen which had thirty-one days' start. 

On the 4th of June the British fleet, having gained 
eight days on the allies, anchored at Barbadoes, where it 
found Cochrane with two sail-of-the-line. The same day 
Magon with his two joined Villeneuve. In the three 
weeks the latter had now been in Martinique he had 
accomplished nothing but the capture of Diamond Rock, 
a small islet detached from the main island, which the 
British held and from which they annoyed the coasters. 
A frigate outstripping Magon had brought pressing orders 
to make conquests in the British possessions, during the 
thirty-live days of waiting for Ganteaume. In consequence, 
when Magon joined, the fleet was under way, standing 
north to clear the islands before making the stretch to the 
southward, and to windward, to reach Barbadoes ; which 
Villeneuve had selected as his first point of attack. 

On the 4th of June, therefore, the two hostile fleets 
were but a hundred miles apart, the distance separating 
Barbadoes from Martinique. Most singularly, at the very 
moment Villeneuve started north to return upon Barba- 
does, false news, too plausible to be slighted, induced Nel- 
son to go south. Positive information was sent by the 
officer commanding at Santa Lucia that the allies had 
been seen from there, May 29, steering south. Nelson 
anchored at Barbadoes at 5 p. m. June 4, embarked two 
thousand troops during the night, and at 10 a. m. next 
day made sail for the southward. On the 6th he passed 
Tobago, which was reported safe, and on the 7th anchored 
off Trinidad ; where to the astonishment of every one 
nothing had been heard of the enemy. Cursing the news 
which had forced him to disregard his own judgment, 
when only a hundred miles of fair wind severed him from 
his prey, Nelson turned upon his tracks and steered for 
Martinique, tortured with fears for Jamaica and every 
exposed British possession. 

VOL. II. —11 


On the 8th of June, when Nelson left Trinidad, the 
combined fleets were nearly four hundred miles from him, 
off the west side of Antigua. Here they captured fourteen 
merchant ships which had imprudently left port, and by 
them were informed that Nelson with fourteen ships (in- 
stead of ten) had reached Barbadoes. To these fourteen, 
Villeneuve, whose information was poor, added five as the 
force of Cochrane, making nineteen to his eighteen. Sup- 
posing therefore the enemy to be superior, not only in 
quality, which he conceded, but in numbers also, he de- 
cided, in view of so unexpected an event as the arrival on 
the scene of the greatest British admiral, to return at once 
to Europe. In this he doubtless met the wishes of Napo- 
leon. "I think," said the latter, ere he knew the fact, 
" that the arrival of Nelson may lead Villeneuve to return 
to Europe ;" ] and he argued, still seeing things as he 
wished, — certainly not as a seaman would, — "When Nel- 
son learns Villeneuve has left the Windward Islands, he 
will go to Jamaica," 2 a thousand miles to leeward. "So 
far from being infallible like the Pope," wrote Nelson at 
the same moment, "I believe my opinions to be very falli- 
ble, and therefore I may be mistaken that the enemy's 
fleet is gone to Europe; but I cannot bring myself to 
think otherwise." 3 Then, having given his reasons, he 
seems to dive into Napoleon's mind and read his thoughts. 
u The enemy will not give me credit for quitting the West 
Indies for this month to come. " 4 

Villeneuve also doubtless hoped to shake off his pursuer 
by his sudden change of purpose. Transferring troops 
necessary to garrison the French islands to four frigates, 
he directed the latter to land them at Guadaloupe and re- 
join him off the Azores, — a mistaken rendezvous, which 
materially lengthened his backward voyage. The combined 
fleet then made sail on the 9th of June to the northward, 

i Corr. de Nap., June 28, 1805, vol. x. p. 708. 2 Ibid., p. 705.' 

3 Nels. Disp., vol. vi. p. 457. 4 Ibid., p. 45 


to reach the westerly winds that favor the passage to 

Three days later Nelson also was off Antigua, and con- 
vinced himself that the allies were bound back to Europe. 
With the tireless energy that brooked no rest when once 
resolve was formed, the night was passed transferring the 
troops which but one week before he had embarked at 
Barbadoes. But not even a night's delay was allowed in 
sending news to Europe. At 8 P. M. he hurried off the 
brig " Curieux " with dispatches to the Admiralty, which 
the captain, Bettesworth, was to deliver in person; a mo- 
mentous action, and one fraught with decisive consequences 
to the campaign, although somewhat marred by an over- 
cautious admiral. On the 13th, at noon, the fleet itself, ac- 
companied by one of Cochrane's two ships, the " Spartiate, " 
sailed for the Straits of Gibraltar; but Nelson, uncertain 
as to the enemy's destination, also sent word to the officer 
commanding off Ferrol, 1 lest he might be taken unawares. 

Although Villeneuve's decision to return was fortunate 
and characterized by the extraordinary good luck which 
upon the whole had so far attended him, it is evident that 
he ran the chance of crossing Ganteaume on the Atlantic, 
as he himself had been crossed by Missiessy. Napoleon 
had taken precautions to insure both his waiting long 
enough, and also his return in case Ganteaume could not 
get away by a certain time ; but not having foreseen, nor 
until June 28 2 even known, Nelson's pursuit of Villeneuve, 
he could not anticipate the course of the latter in such a 
contingency, nor combine with it the action of the Brest 

Ganteaume, however, was not able to elude Lord Gard- 
ner, and on the 8fh of May the emperor, having received 
in Italy the news of Magon's sailing, gave his final deci- 

1 Nek. Disp., vol. vi. p. 459. 

'i this date is the first intimation of Nelson's sailing as known to Na- 
poleon. June 27, he writes, " I do not clearly see where Nelson has been." 
(Corr. de Nap., vol. x p. 701.) 


sion. If before midnight of May 20 an opportunity offered, 
the Brest fleet should start ; but from daybreak of the 21st, 
had it every chance in the world, it should stand fast. A 
frigate was to be kept ready to sail the instant the latter 
condition took effect, carrying to Villeneuve orders for his 
action upon reaching Ferrol. This frigate did sail May 
21, but of course did not find the admiral in the West 
Indies. Duplicate instructions were sent to Ferrol. 

Villeneuve was by them informed that he would in 
Ferrol find ready for sea five French and nine Spanish 
ships, which, with those already under his orders, would 
make a force of thirty-four sail-of-the-line. In the roads 
off Rochefort would be five more. At Brest twenty-one 
ships were lying outside the Goulet, under the protection 
of one hundred and fifty cannon, ready to get under way 
at a moment's notice. The great point was to concen- 
trate these three masses, or as much of them as possible, 
off Boulogne. Three courses were open to him. If the 
squadron at Ferrol could not leave the port when he ap- 
peared, on account of head winds, he should order it to 
join him at Rochefort and go there at once himself. Thence 
with forty ships he should proceed off Brest, join Gan- 
teaume, and at once enter the Channel. If, however, the 
wind was fair for leaving Ferrol, that is, southerly, he 
would see in that a reason for hastening to Brest, without 
stopping for the Rochefort squadron ; the more so as every 
delay would increase the British force before Brest. 
Thirdly, he might possibly, as he drew toward Ushant, 
find the winds so fair as to give the hope of getting to 
Boulogne with his thirty-five ships three or four days 
before the enemy's fleet at Brest could follow. If so, it 
was left to his discretion to embrace so favorable an op- 
portunity. To these three courses Napoleon added a 
fourth as a possible alternative. After rallying the 
Ferrol ships he might pass north of the British Islands, 
join the Dutch squadron of the Texel with Marmont's 


corps there embarked, and with these appear off Boulogne. 
The emperor, however, looked upon this rather as a last 
resort. A great concentration in the Bay of Biscay was 
the one aim he now favored. 

To facilitate this he busied himself much with the 
question of diverting the enemy from that great centre of 
his operations. This it was that made him so ready to 
believe that each squadron that sailed was gone to the 
East Indies. If so, it was well removed from the Bay of 
Biscay. For this he sought to get the Cartagena ships to 
Toulon or to Cadiz. "If we can draw six English ships 
before each port, " he writes, " that will be a fine diversion 
for us ; and if I can get the Cartagena ships in Toulon I 
will threaten Egypt in so many ways that they will be 
obliged to keep there an imposing force. They will believe 
Villeneuve gone to the East Indies in concerted operation 
with the Toulon squadron." 1 For this he purposes to send 
Missiessy to Cadiz. InRochefort that admiral will occupy 
a British detachment, but on the spot where the emperor 
does not wish it; at Cadiz it will be remote from the scene. 
But later on he says, " Perhaps the enemy, who are now 
thoroughly frightened, will not be led away; in that case 
I shall have dispersed my force uselessly." 2 Therefore he 
concludes to keep him at Rochefort, where, if blockaded, 
he reduces the force either off Ferrol or off Brest. If not 
blockaded, he is to go to sea, take a wide sweep in the 
Atlantic, and appear off Ireland. The English will then 
doubtless detach ships to seek him; but he will again dis- 
appear aud take position near Cape Finisterre, where he 
will be likely to meet Villeneuve returning. 3 Finally, for 
line reason, toward the end of June he tries to create 
alarm about the Texel. Marmont is directed to make 
demonstrations and even to embark his troops, while part 
of the emperor's guard is moved to Utrecht. "This will 

1 Corr de Nap., vol x April 23 and May 4, 1805, pp 420, 465. 

2 Ibid., .May 24, p. 544. 3 Ibid., May 29, pp. 563, 624. 


lead the enemy to weaken his fleet before Brest, which is 
the great point. " l 

All these movements were sound and wise ; but the 
emperor made the mistake of underestimating his enemy. 
" We have not to do," he said, " with a far-sighted, but with 
a very proud government. What we are doing is so sim- 
ple that a government the least foresighted would not 
have made war. For an instant they have feared for 
London ; soon they will be sending squadrons to the two 
Indies." 2 

The British government and the British Admiralty 
doubtless made blunders; but barring the one great mis- 
take, for which the previous administration of St. Vincent 
was responsible, of allowing the material of the navy to 
fall below the necessities of the moment, the Trafalgar 
campaign was in its leading outlines well and adequately 
conceived, and in its execution, as event succeeded event, 
ably and even brilliantly directed. Adequate detachments 
were placed before each of the enemy's minor arsenals, 
while the fleet before Brest constituted the great central 
body upon which the several divisions might, and when 
necessity arose, actually did fall back. Sudden disaster, 
or being beaten in detail, thus became almost impossible. 
In the home ports was maintained a well-proportioned 
reserve, large enough to replace ships disabled or repair- 
ing, but not so large as seriously to weaken the force at 
sea. As a rule the Admiralty successfully shunned the 
ex-centric movements to which Napoleon would divert 
them, and clung steadfastly to that close watch which St. 
Vincent had perfected, and which unquestionably embodied 
the soundest strategic principles. Missiessy returned to 
Rochefort on the 26th of May and was promptly blocked 
by a body of five or six ships. As the force in Ferrol 
increased, by the preparation of ships for sea, the opposing 
squadron of six or seven was raised to ten, under Rear- 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. x. June 22, p. 686. 2 Ibid., p. 545. 


Admiral Calder. Before Brest were from twenty to 
twenty-five, to whose command Admiral Cornwallis re- 
turned early in July, after a three months' sick leave. 
Collingwood with half a dozen was before Cadiz, where he 
effectually prevented a concentration, which, by its dis- 
tance from the scene of action, would have seriously em- 
barrassed the British navy. Such was the situation when 
Villencuve and Nelson, in June and July, were re-cross- 
ing the Atlantic, heading, the one for Ferrol, the other for 
the Straits; and when the crisis, to which all the previous 
movements had been leading, was approaching its 

When Nelson started back for Europe, although con- 
vinced the French were thither bound, he had no absolute 
certainty of the fact. 1 For his decision he relied upon his 
own judgment. In dispatching the "Curieux" the night 
before he himself sailed, he directed her captain to steer 
a certain course, by following which he believed he would 
fall in with the allied fleet. 2 Accordingly the "Curieux" 
did, on the 19th of June, sight the enemy in latitude 33° 
1 -' north and longitude 58° west, nine hundred miles 
u nth-north-east from Antigua, standing north-north-west. 
The same day Nelson himself learned from an American 
schooner that a fleet of about twenty-two large ships of 
war had been seen by it on the 15th, three hundred and 
fifty miles south of the position in which Bettes worth 
siw it four days later. 

IVttcsworth fully understood the importance of the 

knowledge thus gained. The precise destination of the 

enemy did not certainly appear, but there could be no 

doubt that he was returning to Europe. With that intel- 

ice, and the information concerning Nelson's purposes, 

1 See, for his reasoning, letter of June 16, three days after leaving 
Antigua; and also, for his uncertainty after reaching Europe, July 18. 
(Nela. Disp., vol. vi pp. 4r>7, 47.3.) 

- .Naval Chronicle, vol. xiv. p. 64. 


it was urgent to reach England speedily. Carrying a 
press of sail, the " Curieux" anchored at Plymouth on the 
7th of July. The captain posted at once to London, arriv- 
ing the evening of the 8th, at eleven. The head of the 
Admiralty at that time was Lord Barham, an aged naval 
officer, who had been unexpectedly called to the office two 
months before, in consequence of the impeachment of 
Lord Melville, the successor to St. Vincent. It was for- 
tunate for Great Britain that the direction of naval opera- 
tions at so critical a moment was in the hands of a man, who, 
though over eighty and long a stranger to active service, 
understood intuitively, and without need of explanation, 
the various conditions of weather and service likely to 
affect the movements of the scattered detachments, British 
and hostile, upon whose rapid combinations so much now 

Barham having gone to bed, Bettesworth's dispatches 
were not given him till early next morning. As soon as 
he got them he exclaimed angrily at the loss of so many 
precious hours ; and, without waiting to dress, at once dic- 
tated orders with which, by 9 a. m. of the 9th, Admiralty 
messengers were hurrying to Plymouth and Portsmouth. 
Cornwallis was directed to raise the blockade at Roche- 
fort, sending the five ships composing it to Sir Robert 
Calder, then watching off Ferrol with ten; and the latter 
was ordered, with the fifteen ships thus united under his 
command, to cruise one hundred miles west of Cape Fin- 
isterre, to intercept Villeneuve and forestall his junction 
with the Ferrol squadron. With Nelson returning toward 
Cadiz, where he would find Collingwood, and with Corn- 
wallis off Brest, this disposition completed the arrange- 
ments necessary to thwart the primary combinations of 
the emperor, unknown to, but shrewdly surmised by, his 
opponents. It realized for Ferrol that which Napoleon 
had indicated as the proper course for the British fleet off 
Brest, in case it received intelligence of Villeneuve 's 


approach there, — to meet the enemy so far at sea as to pre- 
vent the squadron in port from joining in the intended 
battle. 1 

Fair winds favoring the quick, Cornwallis received 
his orders on the 11th; and on the 15th, eight days after 
the " Curieux " anchored in Plymouth, the Rochefort ships 
joined C alder. The latter proceeded at once to the post 
assigned him, where on the 19th he received through Lis- 
bon the tidings of Villeneuve's return sent by Nelson from 
the West Indies. The same day Nelson himself, having 
outstripped the combined fleets, anchored in Gibraltar. 
On the 2'2d the sudden lifting of a dense fog revealed to 
each other the hostile squadrons of Calder and Villeneuve; 
the British fifteen sail-of-the-line, the allies twenty. The 
numbers of the latter were an unpleasant surprise to Calder, 
the "Curieux " having reported them as only seventeen. 2 

Jt is difficult to praise too highly the prompt and deci- 
sive step taken by Lord Barham, when so suddenly con- 
fronted with the dilemma of either raising the blockade 
of Rochefort and Ferrol, or permitting Villeneuve to pro- 
ceed unmolested to his destination, whatever that might 
be. To act instantly and rightly in so distressing a per- 
plexity — to be able to make so unhesitating a sacrifice of 
advantages long and rightly cherished, in order to strike 
at once one of the two converging detachments of an 
enemy — shows generalship of a high order. It may be 
compared to Bonaparte's famous abandonment of the siege 
of Mantua in 1796, to throw himself upon the Austrian 
armies descending from the Tyrol. In the hands of a 
more resolute or more capable admiral than Calder, the 
campaign would probably have been settled off Finisterre. 
Notice has been taken of Barham's good luck, in that the 
brilliant period of Trafalgar fell within his nine months' 
tenure of office ; 3 but Great Britain might better be con- 

1 Napoleon to Docres, July 18, 1805. 2 Naval Chronicle, vol. xiv. p. 64. 
3 Barrow's Autobiography, pp. 276-290. 


gratulated that so clear-headed a man held the reins at 
so critical a moment. 

The length of Villeneuve's passage, which so happily 
concurred to assure the success of Barham's masterly move, 
was due not only to the inferior seamanship of the allies, 
but also to the mistaken rendezvous off the Azores, 1 — 
assigned by the French admiral when leaving the West 
Indies. The westerly gales, which prevail in the North 
Atlantic, blow during the summer from the south of west, 
west of the Azores, and from the north of west when east 
of them. A fleet bound for a European port north of the 
islands — as Ferrol is — should therefore so use the south- 
west winds as to cross their meridian well to the north- 
ward. Nelson himself sighted one of the group, though 
his destination was in a lower latitude. In consequence 
of his mistake, Villeneuve was by the north-west winds 
forced down on the coast of Portugal, where he met the 
north-easters prevalent at that season, against which he 
was struggling when encountered by Calder. This delay 
was therefore caused, not by bad luck, but by bad man- 

Napoleon himself was entirely misled by Barham's 
measures, whose rapidity he himself could not have sur- 
passed. He had left Turin on the 8th of July, and, trav- 
elling incessantly, reached Fontainebleau on the evening 
of the 11th. About the 20th he appears to have received 
the news brought ten days before by the "Curieux, , ' and at 
the same time that of the Rochefort blockade being 
raised. 2 Not till the 27th did he learn that the British 
squadron off Ferrol had also disappeared, after being 
joined by the Rochefort ships. " The c Curieux ' only 
reached England on the 9th, " he wrote to Decres ; " the 
Admiralty could not decide the movements of its squadrons 
in twenty-four hours, yet the Rochefort division disap- 

1 See ante, p. 162. 

2 Napoleon to Berthier, Decres, and Ganteaume, July 20, 1805. 


peared on the 12th. On the 15th it joined that off Ferrol, 
and the same da}', or at latest the next, these fourteen 
ships departed by orders given prior to the arrival of the 
'Curieux.' What news had the English before the arrival 
of that brig ? That the French were at Martinique ; that 
Nelson had then but nine ships. What should the} 7 have 
done ? 1 should not be surprised if they have sent another 
squadron to strengthen Nelson, . . . and that it is these 
fourteen ships from before Ferrol they have sent to 
America." 1 

On the 2d of August the emperor set out for Boulogne, 
and there on the 8th received news of Villeneuve's action 
with Galder and of his subsequent entry into Ferrol. The 
fleets had fought on the afternoon of July 22, and two 
Spanish ships-of-the-line had been taken. Night-fall and 
fog parted the combatants; the obscurity being so great 
that the allies did not know their loss till next day. One 
of the British ships lost a foretopmast, and others suffered 
somewhat in their spars; but these mishaps, though 
pleaded in C alder' 8 defence, do not seem to have been 
the chief reasons that deterred him from dogging the 
enemy till he had brought him again to action. He was 
preoccupied with the care of the prizes, a secondary 
matter, and with the thought of what would happen in 
case the Ferrol and Rochefort squadrons sailed. "I 
could not hope to succeed without receiving great damage; 
1 had no friendly port to go to, and had the Ferrol and 
Rochefort squadrons come out, I must have fallen an easy 
prey. They might have gone to Ireland. Had I been 
defeated ir is impossible to say what the consequences 
might have been." 2 In short, the British admiral had 
fallen info the error against which Napoleon used to 
caution his generals. He had "made to himself a pic- 

1 Napoleon to Decres, July 27, 1805. 

2 Calder'e Defence, Naval Chronicle, vol. xv. p. 167. The words quoted, 
frequently repeated in different terms, embody the spirit of the whole paper. 


ture, " and allowed the impression produced by it to blind 
him to the fact (if indeed he ever saw it) that he had 
before him the largest and most important of the several 
detachments of the enemy, that it was imperatively neces- 
sary not to permit it to escape unharmed, and that at no 
future day could he be sure of bringing his own squadron 
into play with such decisive effect. The wisdom of engag- 
ing at any particular moment was a tactical question, to be 
determined by the circumstances at the time; but the duty 
of keeping touch with the enemy, so as to use promptly any 
opportunity offered, was a strategic question, the answer 
to which admits of no doubt whatever. On the evening 
of the 24th the wind was fair to carry him to the enemy, 
but he parted from them. During the night it blew fresh ; 
and on the morning of the 25th, says a French authority, 
the fleet was without order, several vessels had lost sails, 
and others sustained injuries to their spars. 1 Calder, 
however, was not on hand. 

It is related of Nelson that, on his return voyage from 
the West Indies, he used to say to his captains, speaking 
of the fleet which Calder allowed to escape, " If we meet 
them we shall find them not less than eighteen, I rather 
think twenty, sail-of-the-line, and therefore do not be 
surprised if I should not fall on them immediately; we 
won't fart without a battle. I will let them alone till we 
approach the shores of Europe, or they give me an advan- 
tage too tempting to be resisted. " 2 And again, after reaching 
England, he found on the 23d of August great anxiety 
prevailing about Calder, who with eighteen ships was then 
again cruising for Villeneuve, supposed to have been re- 
enforced to twenty -eight by the Ferrol squadron. " I am 
no conjuror, " he wrote, " but this I ventured without any 

1 Chevalier, Mar. Fran, sous l'Emp., p. 171. Couto (Combate de Tra- 
falgar, p. 107) gives a very serious account of the injuries suffered by the 
four remaining Spanish ships. 

2 Nelson's Disp., vol. vi p. 457, 


fear, that if Calder got fairly alongside their twenty-eight 
sail, by the time the enemy had beat our fleet soundly, 
they would do us no harm this year." 1 These two 
utterances of this consummate warrior sufficiently show 
how Calder should have viewed his opportunity in 

Villeneuve had no more wish to renew the action than 
had Calder. Less even than that admiral could he rise to 
the height of risking a detachment in order to secure the 
success of a great design. In the eighteen ships left to 
him were over twelve hundred men so ill that it was ne- 
ry to put them ashore. Constrained by the winds, he 
put into Vigo on the 28th of July. Calder, on the other 
hand, having seen his prizes so far north as to insure 
their safety, returned off Cape Finisterre where he hoped 
to meet Nelson. Not finding him, he on the 29th resumed 
the blockade of Ferroi. On the 31st Villeneuve, leaving 
three of his worst vessels in Vigo, sailed for Ferroi with 
fifteen ships, of which two only were Spaniards. The 
fleet, having a strong south-west gale, kept close along 
shore to avoid meeting Calder; but the latter, having been 
blown off by the storm, was not in sight when Villeneuve 
reached the harbor's mouth. The allied ships were enter- 
ing with a fair wind, when the French admiral received 
dispatches forbidding him to anchor in Ferroi. If, from 
injuries received in battle, or losses from any causes 
whatever, he was unable to carry out the plan of entering 
the Channel, the emperor preferred that, after rallying 
the Ferroi and Rochefort squadrons, he should go to 
Cadiz; but, the Brest fleet being ready and the other 
preparations complete, he hoped everything from the skill, 
zeal, and courage of Villeneuve. " Make us masters of the 
Straits of Dover," he implored, "be it but for four or five 
days." 2 Napoleon leaned on a broken reed. Forbidden 

1 Nelson's Disp., vol. vii. p. 16 

2 Corr de Napoleon, July 16, 1805 


to enter Ferrol, Villeneuve took his ships into the adja- 
cent harbor of Coruna, 1 where he anchored August 1. 

Thus was effected the junction which Calder had been 
expected to prevent. His absence on the particular day 
may have been unavoidable ; but, if so, it does but empha- 
size his fault in losing sight of the allies on the 24th of 
July, when he had a fair wind. Twenty-nine French and 
Spanish ships were now concentrated at Ferrol. The 
popular outcry was so great that he felt compelled to ask 
an enquiry. The Admiralty having, by a movement both 
judiciously and promptly ordered, secured a meeting with 
the enemy's force so far from Ferrol as to deprive it of the 
support of the ships there, was justly incensed at the 
failure to reap the full advantage. It therefore ordered a 
court-martial. The trial was held the following Decem- 
ber; and the admiral, while expressly cleared of either 
cowardice or disaffection, was adjudged not to have done 
his utmost to renew the engagement and to take or destroy 
every ship of the enemy. His conduct was pronounced 
highly censurable, and he was sentenced to be severely 

This was after Trafalgar. The immediate result of the 
junction in Ferrol was the abandonment of the blockade 
there. On the 2d of August Calder sent five ships to 
resume the watch off Rochefort, whence the French squad- 
ron had meantime escaped. Not till August 9 did he know 
of Villeneuve's entrance into Ferrol. Having with him then 
but nine ships, he fell back upon the main body before 
Brest, which he joined on the 14th, — Cornwallis then hav- 
ing under him seventeen ships, which Calder's junction 
raised to twenty-six. 

The next day, August 15, Nelson also joined the fleet. 
On the 25th of July, a week after reaching Gibraltar, he 
had received the " Curieux's " news. Obeying his constant 

1 The harbors of Ferrol, Coruna, and a third called Betanzos, are inlets 
having a common entrance from the sea 


rule to seek the French, he at once started north with the 
eleven ships which had accompanied him from the West 
Indies, — intending to go either to Ferrol, Brest, or Ireland, 
according to the tidings which might reach him on the 
way. After communicating with Cornwallis, he continued 
on to England with his own ship, the "Victory," and one 
other whose condition required immediate repairs. On 
the 18th he landed in Portsmouth, after an absence of 
over two years. 

Cornwallis had now under his command a concentrated 
force of thirty-four or thirty-five sail-of-the-line, all admi- 
rably seasoned and disciplined. The allies had in Brest 
twenty-one, in Ferrol twenty-nine ; two great bodies, neither 
of which, however, was equal in number, nor still less in 
quality, to his. Adrift somewhere on the sea were the five 
French ships from Rochefort. For more than five months 
these vessels, which sailed on the 17th of July, five days 
after the blockading ships had left to join Caldcr, ranged 
the seas without meeting an equal British division, — a cir- 
cumstance which earned for them from the French the 
name of "the Invisible Squadron." But, while thus fortu- 
nately unseen by the enemy, Napoleon found it equally 
impossible to bring them within the scope of his com- 
binations ; 1 and it may be doubted whether commerce- 
destroying to the sum of two million dollars compensated 
for the loss of so important a military factor. 

The ships in Cadiz being blocked by Collingwood, and 
in Cartagena remaining always inert, the naval 
situation was now comparatively simple. Cornwallis was 
superior to either of the enemy's detachments, and he held 
an interior position. In case Villeneuve approached, it 
was scarcely possible that the two hostile squadrons, de- 
pendent upon the wind, which if fair for one would be 
foul to the other, could unite before he had effectually 
crushed one of them. It ought to be equally improbable, 

1 See Napoleon's letters to Deeres, Allemand, and others, July 26, 1805. 


with proper lookouts, that Villeneuve could elude the 
British fleet and gain so far the start of it as to cover the 
Straits of Dover during the time required by Napoleon. 
In his concentrated force and his interior position Corn- 
wallis controlled the issue, — barring of course those 
accidents which cannot be foreseen, and which at times 
derange the best-laid plans. 

Such was the situation when, on August 17, Cornwallis 
was informed that Villeneuve had put to sea with, it 
was said, twenty-seven or twenty-eight ships-of-the-line. 
He at once detached toward Ferrol Sir Robert Calder 
with eighteen sail, keeping with himself sixteen. This 
division of his fleet, which is condemned by the simplest 
and most generally admitted principles of warfare, trans- 
ferred to Villeneuve all the advantage of central position 
and superior force, and was stigmatized by Napoleon as a 
"glaring blunder." "What a chance," he wrote, upon 
hearing it when all was over, "has Villeneuve missed, 
lie might, by coming upon Brest from a wide sweep to 
sea, have played hide and seek with Calder and fallen 
upon Cornwallis; or else, with his thirty ships have 
beaten Calder's twenty and gained a decided preponder- 
ance. " a This censure of both admirals was just. 

While the British squadrons were concentrating in the 
Bay of Biscay, and the happy insight and diligence of Nel- 
son were bringing the Mediterranean ships to the critical 
centre of action, Napoleon, from the heights overlooking 
Boulogne, was eagerly awaiting news from Villeneuve, 
and at the same time anxiously watching the signs of the 
times on the Continent, where the sky was already dark 
with a gathering storm. The encroachments which led to 
the second war with Great Britain, in 1803, had excited 
no less distrust among the continental powers, who were 
indeed more immediately and disastrously affected by 
them ; but none had then dared to move. The violation 

1 Napoleon to Decres, August 29. 


of German neutrality in 1804, by the seizure of the Due 
d'Enghien on the soil of Baden, had caused a general 
indignation; which, on the part of Russia and Austria, 
was quickened into a desire to act by his execution, re- 
garded by must as a judicial murder. Prussia shared the 
anger and fears of the other powers, but not enough to 
decide her vacillating government. 

In this state of things the fall of the Addington minis- 
try, and the consequent vigor imparted to the foreign 
policy of Great Britain by Pitt's second accession to 
power, led naturally to another coalition; the centre of 
which, as ever, was found in London. The czar having 
remonstrated vigorously, both with Napoleon and the 
German Diet, upon the seizure of the Due d'Enghien, a 
bitter correspondence had followed, causing the rupture 
of diplomatic relations between France and Russia in 
August, 1804. For similar reasons, and at the same time, 
the French embassy to Sweden was recalled. Austria 
still temporized, though her actions excited Napoleon's 

Early in 1805 the czar sent special envoys to London, 
to treat concerning certain vast schemes for the reorgan- 
ization of Europe in the interests of general peace. The 
particular object was not reached; but on the 11th of 
April a treaty between Great Britain and Russia was 
signed, the two agreeing to promote a league among the 
powers to stop further encroachments by Napoleon. Six 
weeks later the emperor was crowned King of Italy, and 
in June Genoa was annexed to France. This last act, 
contemplated by Napoleon for many years, 1 determined 
i.i's accession to the treaty. By her signature, given 
ist 9, 2 the third coalition was formed. Sweden be- 

1 Napoleon to Tnlloyrand, Dec. 18, 1799. "Frame your reply to Genoa in 
such term* as to leave us free to incorporate the Ligurian Republic with 
France, within a few mouths." 

2 Stanhope's Pitt, vol. iv. p. 318. 
VOL. II. — 12 


came a party to it at the same time, and Great Britain 
undertook to pay subsidies to all the members. 

The preparations of Austria, ever deliberate, could not 
escape Napoleon's watchful eye. "All my news from 
Italy is warlike," he writes, "and indeed Austria no 
longer observes any concealment. " 1 Yet, trusting to his 
enemy's slowness and his own readiness, he did not lose 
hope. The position was precisely analogous to those 
military situations in which he had so often snatched 
success from overwhelming numbers, by rapidly throwing 
himself on one enemy before the other could join. He 
might even yet deal his long cherished blow to Great 
Britain, under which, if successful, Austria also would 
at once succumb. On August 13, two days after learning 
of Villeneuve's entry into Corufia, he instructs Talley- 
rand to notify the emperor that the troops assembled in 
the Tyrol must be withdrawn to Bohemia, leaving him 
free to carry on his war with England undisturbed, or by 
November he will be in Vienna. 2 Urgent messages are 
the same day sent to Villeneuve to hasten and fulfil his 
mission, for time was pressing; threatened by Austria 
and Great Britain, a blow must speedily be struck. He 
is no longer ordered to refrain from fighting. On the 
contrary, if superior to the British, counting two Spanish 
ships equal to one French, he is to attack at all hazards. 3 
"If with thirty ships my admirals fear to attack twenty- 
four British, we may as well give up all hope of a 
navy. " 4 

On the 23d of August the emperor announces to Talley- 
rand his final and momentous decision: "My squadron 
sailed August 14 from Ferrol with thirty-four ships; 5 it 
had no enemy in sight. If it follows my instructions, 

1 Napoleon to Talleyrand, July 31, 1805. 2 Ibid., August 13. 

8 Napoleon to Villeneuve, August 13. 

4 Napoleon to Decres, August 14. 

5 Twenty-nine only of the line. 


joins the Brest squadron and enters the Channel, there is 
still time; I am master of England. If, on the contrary, 
my admirals hesitate, manoeuvre badly, and do not fulfil 
their purpose, I have no other resource than to wait for 
winter to cross with the flotilla. That operation is risky; 
it would be more so if, pressed by time, political events 
should oblige me to postpone it to the month of April. 
Such being the case, I hasten to meet the most pressing 
danger: I raise my camp here, and by September 23 I 
shall have in Germany two hundred thousand men, and 
twenty-five thousand in Naples. I march upon Vienna, 
and do not lay down my arms until I have Naples and 
Venice, and have no more to fear from Austria. Austria 
will certainly thus be quieted during the winter." These 
words were a prophecy. The same day numerous orders, 
strictly preparatory as yet, were issued to the troops in 
Hanover, Holland, and Italy, and other provision made for 
the contemplated change of purpose. At the same time, 
still clinging to every hope of arresting Austria, and so 
being left free for the invasion of England, he sent Duroc 
to Berlin to offer Hanover to Prussia, upon condition 
that the latter should move troops toward Bohemia or at 
least make a clear declaration to Austria. 

The issue was already decided. On the 13th of August, 
after three fruitless attempts, Villeneuve got to sea with 
his twenty-nine ships-of-the-line. The frigate "Didon" 
was sent to seek the Rochefort squadron and direct it also 
upon Brest. Yet the unfortunate admiral was even then 
hesitating whether he should go there with his vastly 
greater force, and the orders were likely seriously to en- 
danger the smaller division. As he sailed, he penned 
these significant words to the Minister of Marine: "The 
enemy's forces, more concentrated than ever, leave me 
little other resource than to go to Cadiz." 1 

Shortly after he cleared the harbor the wind shifted to 

1 Chevalier, Marine Fran9aise sous l'Empire, p. 180. 


north-east, foul for his purpose. The fleet stood to the 
north-west ; but the ships were badly handled and several 
received damage. On the morning of the 15th they were 
two hundred and fifty miles west-north-west from Cape 
Finisterre ; the wind blowing a moderate gale, still from 
the north-east. Three ships of war were in sight, — two 
British, the third the frigate that had been sent to seek 
the Rochefort squadron, but which had been captured. 
A Danish merchantman reported that they were lookouts 
from a hostile body of twenty-five ships. The story had 
no foundation, for Cornwallis had not yet divided his 
fleet; but Villeneuve pictured to himself his inefficient 
command meeting a force with which it was wholly un- 
able to cope. Losing sight of the great whole of which 
his own enterprise was but a part, though one of vital 
importance, his resolution finally broke down. That 
evening he ordered the fleet to bear up for Cadiz. On 
the 20th l it was sighted from the three ships commanded 
by Collingwood, who with a small division of varying 
strength had watched the port since the previous May. 
With steady judgment, that admiral in retiring kept just 
out of gun-shot, determined, as he said, not to be driven 
into the Mediterranean without dragging the enemy too 
through the Straits. Villeneuve had little heart to pur- 
sue. That afternoon he anchored in Cadiz, where were 
then assembled thirty-five French and Spanish ships-of- 
the-line. Collingwood at once resumed his station out- 
side. That night one ship-of-the-line joined him, and on 
the 22d Sir Richard Bickerton arrived with four from the 
Mediterranean. On the 30th Calder appeared, bringing 
with him the eighteen detached by Cornwallis. In com- 
pliance with his orders he had been before Ferrol, found 
the port empty, and, learning that Villeneuve had sailed 
for Cadiz, had hastened to re-enforce the blockade. With 
twenty-six ships-of-the-line Collingwood held the enemy 

1 Collingwood's Correspondence, August 21, 1805 


securely checked, and remained in chief command until 
the 28th of September, when Nelson arrived from 

Thus ended, and forever, Napoleon's profoundly con- 
ceived and laboriously prepared scheme for the invasion 
of England. If it be sought to fix a definite moment 
which marked the final failure of so vast a plan, that one 
may well be chosen when Villeneuve made signal to bear 
up* for Cadiz. When, precisely, Napoleon learned the 
truth, does not appear. Decres, the Minister of Marine, 
had however prepared him in some measure for Ville- 
neuve's action; and, after a momentary outburst of rage 
against the unfortunate admiral, he at once issued in 
rapid succession the directions, by which, to use his own 
graphic expression, his legions were made to "pirouette," 
and the march toward the Rhine and Upper Danube was 
begun. "My decision is taken," he writes to Talleyrand, 
August 25; "my movement is begun. Three weeks hence 
I shall be in Germany with two hundred thousand men." 
During that and the two following days order after order 
issued from his headquarters ; and on the 28th he wrote to 
Duroc that the army was in full movement. To conceal 
his change of purpose and to gain all-important time, by 
lulling the suspicions of Austria, he himself remained at 
Boulogne, with his eyes seemingly fixed seaward, until 
the 3d of September, when he went to Paris. On the 
241 h he left the capital for the army, on the 26th he was 
at Strasbourg, and on the 7th of October the French army, 
numbering near two hundred thousand, struck the Danube 
below Ulm; cutting off some eighty thousand Austrians 
there assembled under General Mack. On the 20th, the 
day before Trafalgar, Ulm capitulated; thirty thousand 
men laying down their arms. Thirty thousand more had 
been taken in the actions preceding this event. 1 On the 
13th of November French troops entered Vienna, and on 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., livre xxii. pp. 125, 128. 


the 2d of December the battle of Austerlitz was won over 
the combined Russians and Austrians. On the 26th the 
emperor of Germany signed the Peace of Presburg. By it 
he relinquished Venice with all other possessions in Italy, 
and ceded the Tyrol to Bavaria, the ally of France. 

Austria was thus quieted for three years, but the expe- 
dition against Great Britain was never resumed. In the 
course of the following year difficulties arose between 
Prussia and France, which led to war and the overthrow 
of the North German kingdom at Auerstadt and Jena. 
Yet another campaign was needed to bring Russia to 
peace in 1807. Meanwhile the Boulogne flotilla was rot- 
ting on the beach. In October, 1807, Decres, by Napo- 
leon's orders, made an inspection of the boats and the 
four ports. Of the twelve hundred of the former, specially 
built for the invasion, not over three hundred were fit to 
put to sea ; of the nine hundred transports nearly all were 
past service. The circular port at Boulogne was cover- 
ered two feet deep with sand; those of Vimereux and 
Ambleteuse, three feet. A very few years more would 
suffice to bury them. l In 1814 an English lady, visiting 
Boulogne after Napoleon's first abdication, noted in her 
journal that the mud walls of the encampment were still 
to be seen on the heights behind the town, — the crumb- 
ling record of a great failure. 

The question will naturally here arise, What at any 
time were the chances of success ? To a purely specula- 
tive question, involving so many elements and into which 
the conditions of sea war then introduced so many vary- 
ing quantities, it would be folly to reply with a positive 
assertion. Certain determining factors may, however, be 
profitably noted. It is, for instance, evident that, if 
Villeneuve on leaving the West Indies had had with him 
the Ferrol squadron, and still more if he had been joined 
by Ganteaume, he could have steered at once for the 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., livre xxviii. p. 233. 


Channel; and, by attending to well-known weather condi- 
tions, could have entered it with a favoring wind sure to 
last him to Boulogne. The difficulty of effecting such a 
combination in the West Indies, which was Napoleon's 
favorite project, was owing to the presence of British 
divisions before the hostile ports, and step by step this 
circumstance drove the emperor back on what he pro- 
nounced the worst alternative, — a concentration in front 
of Brest. As has been noticed, at the critical moment 
when this final concentration was to be attempted, the 
British, by a series of movements which resulted natu- 
rally from their strategic polic} r , were before that port in 
force superior to either of the French detachments seek- 
ing there to make their junction. Cornwallis's blunder 
in dividing that force cannot obscure the military lesson 

Nor can Calder's error, in suffering Villeneuve to escape 
him in July, detract from the equally significant and pre- 
cisely similar lesson then illustrated. There also the 
British fleet was on hand to check an important junc- 
tion — at a point so far from Ferrol as to be out of sup- 
porting distance by the division in the port — by virtue of 
an intelligent use of interior positions and interior lines. 

To the strategic advantage conferred by these interior 
positions, for clinging to which credit is due above all to 
St. Vincent, is to be added the very superior character of 
the British personnel, — particularly of the officers; for the 
immense demand for seamen made it hard to maintain 
the quality of the crews. Continually cruising, not singly 
but in squadrons more or less numerous, the ships were 
ever on the drill ground, — nay, on the battle-field, — ex- 
periencing all the varying phases impressed upon it by 
the changes of the ocean. Thus practised and hardened 
into perfect machines, though inferior in numbers, they 
were continually superior in force and in mobility to their 


Possessing, therefore, strategic advantage and superior 
force, the probabilities favored Great Britain. Neverthe- 
less, there remained to Napoleon enough chances of suc- 
cess to forbid saying that his enterprise was hopeless. A 
seaman can scarcely deny that, despite the genius of Nel- 
son and the tenacity of the British officers, it was possible 
that some favorable concurrence of circumstances might 
have brought forty or more French ships into the Channel, 
and given Napoleon the mastery of the Straits for the few 
days he asked. The very removal of the squadrons of 
observation from before Rochefort and Ferrol, in order to 
constitute the fleet with which Calder fought Villeneuve, 
though admirable as a display of generalship, shows that 
the British navy, so far as numbers were concerned, was 
not adequate to perfect security, and might, by some con- 
ceivable combination of circumstances, have been out- 
witted and overwhelmed at the decisive point. 

The importance attached by the emperor to his project 
was not exaggerated. He might, or he might not, succeed ; 
but, if he failed against Great Britain, he failed everywhere. 
This he, with the intuition of genius, felt; and to this the 
record of his after history now bears witness. To the strife 
of arms with the great Sea Power succeeded the strife of 
endurance. Amid all the pomp and circumstance of the 
war which for ten years to come desolated the Continent, 
amid all the tramping to and fro over Europe of the French 
armies and their auxiliary legions, there went on unceas- 
ingly that noiseless pressure upon the vitals of France, 
that compulsion, whose silence, when once noted, becomes 
to the observer the most striking and awful mark of the 
working of Sea Power. Under it the resources of the 
Continent wasted more and more with each succeeding 
year; and Napoleon, amid all the splendor of his imperial 
position, was ever needy. To this, and to the immense 
expenditures required to enforce the Continental System, 
are to be attributed most of those arbitrarv acts which 


made him the hated of the peoples, for whose enfran- 
chisement he did so much. Lack of revenue and lack 
of credit, such was the price paid by Napoleon for the 
Continental System, through which alone, after Trafalgar, 
he hoped to crush the Power of the Sea. It may be 
doubted whether, amid all his glory, he ever felt secure 
after the failure of the invasion of England. To borrow 
his own vigorous words, in the address to the nation 
issued before he joined the army, " To live without com- 
meree, without shipping, without colonies, subjected to 
the unjust will of our enemies, is to live as Frenchmen 
should not." Yet so had France to live throughout his 
reign, by the will of the one enemy never conquered. 

On the 14th of September, before quitting Paris, Napo- 
leon sent Villeneuve orders to take the first favorable 
opportunity to leave Cadiz, to enter the Mediterranean, 
join the ships at Cartagena, and with this combined force 
move upon southern Italy. There, at any suitable point, 
he was to land the troops embarked in the fleet to re- 
enforce General St. Cyr, who already had instructions to 
be ready to attack Naples at a moment's notice. 1 The 
next day these orders were reiterated to Decres, enforcing 
the importance to the general campaign of so powerful a 
diversion as the presence of this great fleet in the Medi- 
terranean; but, as " Villeneuve's excessive pusillanimity 
will prevent him from undertaking this, you will send to 
replace him Admiral Rosily, who will bear letters direct- 
ing Villeneuve to return to France and give an account of 
his conduct." 2 The emperor had already formulated his 
complaints against the admiral under seven distinct 
heads. 3 On the 15th of September, the same day the 
orders to relieve Villeneuve were issued, Nelson, having 
spent at home only twenty-five days, left England for the 
last time. On the 28th, when he joined the fleet off 

1 Napoleon to St. Cyr, Sept. 2, 1805. 

2 Napoleon to Decres, Sept. 15. 3 Ibid., Sept. 4. 


Cadiz, he found under his command twenty -nine ships-of- 
the-line, which successive arrivals raised to thirty -three by 
the day of the battle ; but, water running short, it became 
necessary to send the ships, by divisions of six, to fill up 
at Gibraltar. To this cause was due that only twenty- 
seven British vessels were present in the action, — an un- 
fortunate circumstance ; for, as Nelson said, what the 
country wanted was not merely a splendid victory, but 
annihilation; "numbers only can annihilate. 1 ' 1 The force 
under his command was thus disposed: the main body 
about fifty miles west-south-west of Cadiz, seven lookout 
frigates close in with the port, and between these ex- 
tremes, two small detachments of ships-of-the-line, — the 
one twenty miles from the harbor, the other about thirty- 
five. "By this chain," he wrote, "I hope to have con- 
stant communication with the frigates." 

Napoleon's commands to enter the Mediterranean reached 
Villeneuve on September 27. The following day, when 
Nelson was joining his fleet, the admiral acknowledged 
their receipt, and submissively reported his intention to 
obey as soon as the wind served. Before he could do so, 
accurate intelligence was received of the strength of 
Nelson's force, which the emperor had not known. Ville- 
neuve assembled a council of war to consider the situa- 
tion, and the general opinion was adverse to sailing; but 
the commander-in-chief, alleging the orders of Napoleon, 
announced his determination to follow them. To this all 
submitted. An event, then unforeseen by Villeneuve, 
precipitated his action. 

Admiral Rosily's approach was known in Cadiz some 
time before he could arrive. It at first made little im- 
pression upon Villeneuve, who was not expecting to be 
superseded. On the 11th of October, however, along with 
the news that his successor had reached Madrid, there 
came to him a rumor of the truth. His honor took alarm. 

1 Nels Disp., vol. vii p. 80. 


If not allowed to remain afloat, how remove the undeserved 
imputation of cowardice which he knew had by some been 
attached to his name. He at once wrote to Decres that he 
would have been well content if permitted to continue 
with the fleet in a subordinate capacity; and closed with 
the words, "I will sail to-morrow, if circumstances 

The wind next day was fair, and the combined fleets 
began to weigh. On the 19th eight ships got clear of the 
harbor, and by ten a. m. Nelson, far at sea, knew by sig- 
nal that the long-expected movement had begun. He at 
once made sail toward the Straits of Gibraltar to bar the 
entrance of the Mediterranean to the allies. On the 20th, 
all the latter, thirty-three ships-of-the-line accompanied 
by five frigates and two brigs, were at sea, steering with 
a south-west wind to the northward and westward to gain 
the oinng needed before heading direct for the Straits. 
That morning Nelson, for whom the wind had been fair, 
was lying to off Cape Spartel to intercept the enemy ; and 
learning from his frigates that they were north of him, he 
stood in that direction to meet them. 

During the day the wind shifted to west, still fair for 
the British and allowing the allies, by going about, to 
head south. It was still very weak, so that the progress 
of the fleets was slow. During the night both manoeuvred ; 
the allies to gain, the British to retain, the position they 
wished. At daybreak of the 21st they were in presence, 
the French and Spaniards steering south in five columns ; 
<>i which the two to windward, containing together twelve 
ships, constituted a detached squadron of observation 
under Admiral Gravina. The remaining twenty-one 
formed the main body, commanded by Villeneuve. Cape 
Trafalgar, from which the battle took its name, was on 
the south-eastern horizon, ten or twelve miles from the 
allies ; and the British fleet was at the same distance from 
them to the westward. 


Soon after daylight Villeneuve signalled to form line 
of battle on the starboard tack, on which they were then 
sailing, heading south. In performing this evolution 
Gravina with his twelve ships took post in the van of the 
allied fleet, his own flag-ship heading the column. It is 
disputed between the French and Spaniards whether this 
step was taken by Villeneuve's order, or of Gravina's own 
motion. In either case, these twelve, by abandoning their 
central and windward position, sacrificed to a great extent 
their power to re-enforce any threatened part of the order, 
and also unduly extended a line already too long. In the 
end, instead of being a reserve well in hand, they became 
the helpless victims of the British concentration. 

At 8 a. M. Villeneuve saw that battle could not be 
shunned. Wishing to have Cadiz under his lee in case of 
disaster, he ordered the combined fleet to wear together. 
The signal was clumsily executed; but by ten all had 
gone round and were heading north in inverse order, 
Gravina's squadron in the rear. At eleven Villeneuve 
directed this squadron to keep well to windward, so as to 
be in position to succor the centre, upon which the enemy 
seemed about to make his chief attack ; a judicious order, 
but rendered fruitless by the purpose of the British to 
concentrate on the rear itself. When this signal was 
made, Cadiz was twenty miles distant in the north-north- 
east, and the course of the allies was carrying them 
toward it. 

Owing to the lightness of the wind Nelson would lose 
no time in manoeuvring. He formed his fleet rapidly in 
two divisions, each in single column, the simplest and 
most flexible order of attack, and the one whose regularity 
is most easily preserved. The simple column, however, 
unflanked, sacrifices during the critical period of closing 
the support given by the rear ships to the leader, and 
draws upon the latter the concentrated fire of the enemy's 
line. Its use by Nelson on this occasion has been much 


criticised. It is therefore to be remarked that, although 
his orders, issued several days previous to the battle, are 
somewhat ambiguous on this point, their natural meaning 
seems to indicate the intention, if attacking from to wind- 
ward, to draw up with his fleet in two columns parallel to 
the enemy and abreast his rear. Then the column nearest 
the enemy, the lee, keeping away together, would advance 
in line against the twelve rear ships; while the weather 
column, moving forward, would hold in check the remain- 
der of the hostile fleet. In either event, whether attack- 
ing in column or in line, the essential feature of his plan 
was to overpower twelve of the enemy by sixteen British, 
while the remainder of his force covered this operation. 
The destruction of the rear was entrusted to the second in 
command ; he himself with a smaller body took charge of 
the more uncertain duties of the containing force. " The 
second in command," wrote he in his memorable order, 
"will, after my instructions are made known to him, have 
the entire direction of his line." 

The justification of Nelson's dispositions for battle at 
Trafalgar rests therefore primarily upon the sluggish 
breeze, which would so have delayed formations as to risk 
the loss of the opportunity. It must also be observed that, 
although a column of ships does not possess the sustained 
momentum of a column of men, whose depth and mass 
combine to drive it through the relatively thin resistance 
of a line, and so cut the latter in twain, the results never- 
theless are closely analogous. The leaders in either case 
are sacrificed, — success is won over their prostrate forms; 
but the continued impact upon one part of the enemy's 
order is essentially a concentration, the issue of which, if 
long enough maintained, cannot be doubtful. Penetration, 
severance, and the enveloping of one of the parted frag- 
ments, must be the result. So, exactly, it was at Trafal- 
gar. It must also be noted that the rear ships of either 
column, until they reached the hostile line, swept with 


their broadsides the sea over which enemy's ships from 
either flank might try to come to the support of the at- 
tacked centre. No such attempt was in fact made from 
either extremity of the combined fleet. 

The two British columns were nearly a mile apart and 
advanced on parallel courses, — heading nearly east, but a 
little to the northward to allow for the gradual advance 
in that direction of the hostile fleet. The northern or 
left-hand column, commonly called the "weather line" 
because the wind came rather from that side, contained 
twelve ships, and was led by Nelson himself in the " Vic- 
tory," a ship of one hundred guns. The "Royal Sover- 
eign," of the same size and carrying Collingwood's flag, 
headed the right column, of fifteen ships. 

To the British advance the allies opposed the traditional 
order of battle, a long single line, closehauled, — in this 
case heading north, with the wind from west-north-west. 
The distance from one flank to the other was nearly five 
miles. Owing partly to the lightness of the breeze, partly 
to the great number of ships, and partly to the inefficiency 
of many of the units of the fleet, the line was very imper- 
fectly formed. Ships were not in their places, intervals 
were of irregular width, here vessels were not closed up, 
there two overlapped, one masking the other's fire. The 
general result was that, instead of a line, the allied order 
showed a curve of gradual sweep, convex toward the east. 
To the British approach from the west, therefore, it pre- 
sented a disposition resembling a re-entrant angle ; and 
Collingwood, noting with observant eye the advantage of 
this arrangement for a cross-fire, commented favorably 
upon it in his report of the battle. It was, however, the 
result of chance, not of intention, — due, not to the talent 
of the chief, but to the want of skill in his subordinates. 

The commander-in-chief of the allies, Villeneuve, was 
in the " Bucentaure, " an eighty-gun ship, the twelfth in 
order from the van of the line. Immediately ahead of 


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him was the huge Spanish four-decker, the "Santisima 
Trinidad," a Goliath among ships, which had now come 
forth to her last battle. Sixth behind the " Bucentaure, " 
and therefore eighteenth in the order, came a Spanish three- 
decker, the "Santa Ana," flying the flag of Vice- Admiral 
Alava. These two admirals marked the right and left of 
the allied centre, and upon them, therefore, the British 
leaders respectively directed their course, — Nelson upon 
the "Bucentaure," Collingwood upon the "Santa Ana." 

The " Royal Sovereign " had recently been refitted, and 
with clean new copper easily outsailed her more worn 
followers. Thus it happened that, as Collingwood came 
within range, his ship, outstripping the others by three 
quarters of a mile, entered alone, and for twenty minutes 
endured, unsupported, the fire of all the hostile ships that 
could reach her. A proud deed, surely, but surely also 
not a deed to be commended as a pattern. The first shot 
of the battle was fired at her by the "Fougueux," the next 
astern of the " Santa Ana. " This was just at noon, and 
with the opening guns the ships of both fleets hoisted their 
ensigns ; the Spaniards also hanging large wooden crosses 
from their spanker booms. 

The " Royal Sovereign " advanced in silence until, ten 
minutes later, she passed close under the stern of the 
"Santa Ana." Then she fired a double-shotted broadside 
which struck down four hundred of the enemy's crew, 
and, luffing rapidly, took her position close alongside, 
the muzzles of the hostile guns nearly touching. Here 
the " Royal Sovereign " underwent the fire not only of her 
chief antagonist, but of four other ships ; three of which 
belonged to the division of five that ought closely to have 
knit the "Santa Ana" to the "Bucentaure," and so fixed 
an impassable barrier to the enemy seeking to pierce the 
centre. The fact shows strikingly the looseness of the 
allied order, these three being all in rear and to lee- 
ward of their proper stations. 


For fifteen minutes the " Royal Sovereign " was the only 
British ship in close action. Then her next astern entered 
the battle, followed successively by the rest of the column. 
In rear of the " Santa Ana " were fifteen ships. Among 
these, Collingwood's vessels penetrated in various direc- 
tions ; chiefly, however, at first near the spot where his flag 
had led the way, enveloping and destroying in detail the 
enemy's centre and leading rear ships, and then passing 
on to subdue the rest. Much doubtless was determined by 
chance in such confusion and obscurity; but the original 
tactical plan insured an overwhelming concentration upon 
a limited portion of the enemy's order. This being sub- 
dued with the less loss, because so outnumbered, the in- 
telligence and skill of the various British captains readily 
compassed the destruction of the dwindling remnant. 
Of the sixteen ships, including the "Santa Ana," which 
composed the allied rear, twelve were taken or destroyed. 

Not till one o'clock, or nearly half an hour after the 
vessels next following Collingwood came into action, did 
the "Victory" reach the " Bucentaure. " The latter was 
raked with the same dire results that befell the " Santa 
Ana ;" but a ship close to leeward blocked the way, and 
Nelson was not able to grapple with the enemy's comman- 
der-in-chief. The " Victory, " prevented from going through 
the line, fell on board the " Redoutable, " a French seventy- 
four, between which and herself a furious action followed, 
— the two lying in close contact. At half-past one Nelson 
fell mortally wounded, the battle still raging fiercely. 

The ship immediately following Nelson's came also 
into collision with the "Redoutable," which thus found 
herself in combat with two antagonists. The next three 
of the British weather column each in succession raked 
the " Bucentaure," complying thus with Nelson's order that 
every effort must be made to capture the enemy's com- 
mander-in-chief. Passing on, these three concentrated 
their efforts, first upon the " Bucentaure, " and next upon the 


u Santisima Trinidad. " Thus it happened that upon the 
allied commander-in-chief, upon his next ahead, and upon 
the ship which, though not his natural supporter astern, 
had sought and filled that honorable post, — upon the key, 
in short, of the allied order, — were combined under the 
most advantageous conditions the fires of five hostile 
vessels, three of them first-rates. Consequently, not only 
were the three added to the prizes, but also a great breach 
was made between the van and rear of the combined fleets. 
This breach became yet wider by the singular conduct of 
Yilleneuve's proper next astern. Soon after the " Victory " 
came into action, that ship bore up out of the line, wore 
round, and stood toward the rear, followed by three 
others. This movement is attributed to a wish to succor 
the rear. Jf so, it was at best an indiscreet and ill-timed 
act, which finds little palliation in the fact that not one 
of these ships was taken. 

Tims, two hours after the battle began, the allied fleet was 
cut in two, the rear enveloped and in process of being de- 
stroyed in detail, the " Bucentaure," " Santisima Trinidad," 
and " Redoutable " practically reduced, though not yet sur- 
rendered. Ahead of the "Santisima Trinidad" were ten 
ships, which as yet had not been engaged. The inaction 
of the van, though partly accounted for by the slackness 
of the wind, has given just cause for censure. To it, at 
ti-n minutes before two, Villeneuvc made signal to get 
into action and to wear together. This was accomplished 
with difficulty, owing to the heavy swell and want of wind. 
At three, however, all the ships were about, but by an' 
extraordinary fatality they did not keep together. Five 
with Admiral Dumanoir stood along to windward of the 
battle, three passed to leeward of it, and two, keeping 
away, left the field entirely. Of the whole number, three 
were intercepted, raising the loss of the allies to eighteen 
ships-of-the-line taken, one of which caught fire and was 
burmd. The approach of Admiral Dumanoir, if made an 

VOL. II. — 13 


hour earlier, might have conduced to save Villeneuve ; it 
was now too late. Exchanging a few distant broadsides 
with enemy's ships, he stood off to the south-west with 
four vessels ; one of those at first with him having been 
cut off. 

At quarter before five Admiral Gravina, whose ship 
had been the rear of the order during the battle and had 
lost heavily, retreated toward Cadiz, making signal to the 
vessels which had not struck to form around his flag. Five 
other Spanish ships and five French followed him. As he 
was withdrawing, the last two to resist of the allied fleet 
struck their colors. 

During the night of the 21st these eleven ships anchored 
at the mouth of Cadiz harbor, which they could not then 
enter, on account of a land wind from south-east. At the 
same time the British and their prizes were being carried 
shoreward by the heavy swell which had prevailed during 
the battle ; the light air blowing from the sea not enabling 
them to haul off. The situation was one of imminent 
peril. At midnight the wind freshened much, but fortu- 
nately hauled to the southward, whence it blew a gale all 
the 22d. The ships got their heads to the westward and 
drew off shore, with thirteen of the prizes ; the other four 
having had to anchor off Cape Trafalgar. That morning 
the " Bucentaure," Villeneuve's late flag-ship, was wrecked 
on some rocks off the entrance to Cadiz; and toward 
evening the " Redoutable, " that had so nobly supported her, 
was found to be sinking astern of the British ship that had 
her in tow. During the night of the 22d she went down, 
with a hundred and fifty of her people still on board. On 
the 24th the same fate befell the great " Santisima Trini- 
dad," which had been the French admiral's next ahead. 
Thus his own ship and his two supports vanished from 
the seas. 

For several days the wind continued violent from north- 
west and south-west. On the 23d five of the ships that had 


escaped with Gravina put out, to cut off some of the prizes 
thai were near the coast. They succeeded in taking two ; 
but as these were battered to pieces, while three of the five 
rescuers were carried on the beach and wrecked with great 
loss of life, little advantage resulted from this well-meant 
and gallant sortie. Two other prizes were given up to 
their own crews by the British prize-masters, because the 
latter were not able with their scanty force to save them. 
These got into Cadiz. Of the remaining British prizes, 
all but four either went ashore or were destroyed by the 
orders of Collingwood, who despaired of saving them. No 
British ship was lost. 

Of thirty-three combined French and Spanish ships 
which sailed out of Cadiz on the 20th of October, eleven, 
five French and six Spanish, mostly now disabled hulks, 
lay there at anchor on the last day of the month. The 
four that escaped to sea under Dumanoir fell in with a 
British squadron of the same size near Cape Ortegal, on 
the 4th of November, and were all taken. This raised the 
allied loss to twenty-two, — two more than the twenty for 
which Nelson, in his dying hour, declared that he had 

No attempt to move from Cadiz was again made by the 
shattered relics of the fight. On the 25th of October 
Rosily arrived and took up his now blasted command. 
Nearly three years later, when the Spanish monarchy, so 
long the submissive tool of the Directory and of Napoleon, 
had been overthrown by the latter, and the Spanish people 
had risen against the usurper, the five French ships were 
still in the port. Surprised between the British blockade 
and the now hostile batteries of the coast, Rosily, after 
an engagement of two days with the latter, surrendered 
his squadron, with the four thousand seamen then on 
board. This event occurred on the 14th of June, 1808. 
It was the last echo of Trafalgar. 

Such, in its leading outlines and direct consequences, 


was the famous battle of Trafalgar. Its lasting signifi- 
cance and far-reaching results have been well stated by a 
recent historian, more keenly alive than most of his 
fellows to the paramount, though silent, influence of Sea 
Power upon the course of events: "Trafalgar was not 
only the greatest naval victory, it was the greatest and 
most momentous victory won either by land or by sea 
during the whole of the Revolutionary War. No victory, 
and no series of victories, of Napoleon produced the same 
effect upon Europe. ... A generation passed after Tra- 
falgar before France again seriously threatened England at 
sea. The prospect of crushing the British navy, so long 
as England had the means to equip a navy, vanished. 
Napoleon henceforth set hie hopes on exhausting England's 
resources, by compelling every state on the Continent to 
exclude her commerce. Trafalgar forced him to impose 
his yoke upon all Europe, or to abandon the hope of con- 
quering Great Britain. . . . Nelson's last triumph left 
England in such a position that no means remained to 
injure her but those which must result in the ultimate de- 
liverance of the Continent. " 1 

These words may be accepted with very slight modifi- 
cation. Napoleon's scheme for the invasion of Great 
Britain, thwarted once and again by the strategic difficul- 
ties attendant upon its execution, was finally frustrated 
when Villeneuve gave up the attempt to reach Brest and 
headed for Cadiz. On the part of the allies Trafalgar 
was, in itself, a useless holocaust, precipitated in the end 
by the despair of the unfortunate admiral, upon whose 
irresolution Napoleon not unjustly visited the anger 
caused by the wreck of his plans. Villeneuve was per- 
fectly clear-sighted and right in his appreciation of the 
deficiencies of his command, — of the many chances against 
success. Where he wretchedly failed was in not recog- 
nizing the simple duty of obedience, — the obligation to 

1 Fyffe's History of Modern Europe, vol. i. p. 281. 


persist at all hazards in the part of a great scheme as- 
signed to him, even though it led to the destruction of 
his whole force. Had he, upon leaving Ferrol, been vis- 
ited by a little of the desperation which brought him to 
Trafalgar, the invasion of England might possibly — not 
probably — have been effected. 

An event so striking as the battle of Trafalgar becomes, 
however, to mankind the symbol of all the circumstances 
— more important, perhaps, but less obvious — which cul- 
minate in it. In this sense it may be said that Trafalgar 
was the cause — as it certainly marked the period — of 
Napoleon's resolution to crush Great Britain by excluding 
her commerce from the Continent. Here, therefore, the 
story of the influence of Sea Power upon this great conflict 
ceases to follow the strictly naval events, and becomes 
concerned simply with commerce-destroying, ordinarily a 
secondary operation of maritime war, but exalted in the 
later years of Napoleon's reign to be the principal, if not 
the sole, means of action. 

To this the two next chapters are devoted. Of these, the 
first deals with commerce-destroying in the ordinary sense 
of the words, directed against enemies' property on the 
high seas ; beginning with the outbreak of war in 1793, 
and narrating the series of measures by which the repub- 
lic sought to break down British commerce and fore- 
shadowed the policy of Napoleon's Berlin and Milan 
decrees. The second begins with the Berlin decree, in 
1806 ; and, tracing one by one the steps which carried the 
emperor from violence to violence, seeks to show how 
these found their necessary outcome in the Russian expe- 
dition and the fall of the Empire. Detached thus, as far 
as may be, from the maze of contemporary history in 
which they are commonly lost, these successive acts of 
the French government are seen to form a logical 
sequence, connected by one motive and dominated by 
one necessity. The motive is the destruction of Great 


Britain, the necessity that of self-preservation. Each 
nation, unassailable on its own element, stood like an 
impregnable fortress that can be brought to surrender 
only by the exhaustion of its resources. In this struggle 
of endurance Napoleon fell. 


The Warfare against Commerce during tiie French Revo- 
lution and Empire, to the Berlin Decree. 1793-1806. 

THE Warfare against Commerce during the French 
Revolution, alike under the Republic and under 
Napoleon, was marked by the same passionate vehemence, 
the same extreme and far-reaching conceptions, the same 
obstinate resolve utterly to overthrow and extirpate every 
opposing force, that characterized the political and military 
enterprises of the period. In the effort to bring under the 
yoke of their own policy the commerce of the whole world, 
the two chief contestants, France and Great Britain, 
swayed back and forth in deadly grapple over the vast 
arena, trampling under foot the rights and interests of 
the weaker parties ; who, whether as neutrals, or as sub- 
jects of friendly or allied powers, looked helplessly on, 
and found that in this great struggle for self-preservation, 
neither outcries, nor threats, nor despairing submission, 
availed to lessen the pressure that was gradually crushing 
out both hope and life. The question between Napoleon 
and the British people became simply one of endurance, as 
was tersely and powerfully shown by the emperor himself. 
Both were expending their capital, and drawing freely 
drafts upon the future, the one in money, the other in men, 
to sustain their present strength. Like two infuriated dogs' 
they had locked jaws over Commerce, as the decisive element 
in the contest. Neither would let go his grip until failing 
vitality should loose it, or until some bystander should 
deal one a wound through which the powers of life should 


drain away. All now know that in the latter way the 
end came. The commercial policy of the great monarch, 
who, from the confines of Europe, had watched the tussle 
with all the eagerness of self-interest, angered Napoleon. 
To enforce his will, he made new and offensive annexa- 
tions of territory. The czar replied by a commercial 
edict, sharp and decisive, and war was determined. " It 
is all a scene in the Opera," wrote Napoleon, 1 "and the 
English are the scene shifters. " Words failed the men of 
that day to represent the grandeur and apparent solidity 
of the Empire in 1811, when Napoleon's heir was born. 
In December, 1812, it was shattered from turret to foun- 
dation stone; wrecked in the attempt "to conquer the sea 
by the land. " The scene was shifted indeed. 

Great Britain remained victorious on the field, but she 
had touched the verge of ruin. Confronted with the fixed 
resolution of her enemy to break down her commerce by 
an absolute exclusion from the continent of Europe, and 
as far as possible from the rest of the world, she met the 
challenge by a measure equally extreme, forbidding all 
neutral vessels to enter ports hostile to her, unless they 
had first touched at one of her own. Shut out herself from 
the Continent, she announced that while this exclusion 
lasted she would shut the Continent off from all external 
intercourse. "No trade except through England," was the 
formula under which her leaders expressed their purpose. 
The entrance of Russia into this strife, under the provo- 
cations of Napoleon, prevented the problem, which of these 
two policies would overthrow the other, from reaching a 
natural solution ; and the final result of the measures which 
it is one object of this and the following chapter to narrate 
must remain for ever uncertain. It is, however, evident 
that a commercial and manufacturing country like Great 
Britain must, in a strife the essence of which was the 
restriction of trade, suffer more than one depending, as 

1 To the King of Wurtemburg, April 2, 1811 ; Corr., vol. xxii. p. 19. 


France did, mainly npon her internal resources. The 
question, as before stated, was whether she could en- 
dure the greater drain by her greater wealth. Upon the 
whole, the indications were, and to the end continued 
to be, that she could do so; that Napoleon, in entering 
upon this particular struggle, miscalculated his enemy's 

But besides this, here, as in every contest where the 
opponents are closely matched, where power and disci- 
pline and leadership are nearly equal, there was a further 
question: which of the two would make the first and 
greatest mistakes, and how ready the other party was to 
profit by his errors. In so even a balance, the wisest 
prophet cannot foresee how the scale will turn. The 
result will depend not merely upon the skill of the 
swordsman in handling his weapons, but also upon the 
wariness of his fence and the quickness of his returns; 
much, too, upon his temper. Here also Napoleon was 
worsted. Scarcely was the battle over commerce joined, 
when the uprising of Spain was precipitated by over- 
confidence ; Great Britain hastened at once to place her- 
self by the side of the insurgents. Four years later, when 
the British people were groaning in a protracted financial 
crisis, — when, if ever, there was a hope that the expected 
convulsion and ruin were at hand, — Napoleon, instead of 
waiting for his already rigorous blockade to finish the 
work he attributed to it, strove to draw it yet closer, by 
demands which were unnecessary and to which the czar 
could not yield. Again Great Britain seized her opportu- 
nity, received her late enemy's fleet, and filled his treas- 
ury. Admit the difficulties of Napoleon; allow as we 
may for the intricacy of the problem before him ; the fact 
remains that he wholly misunderstood the temper of the 
Spanish people, the dangers of the Spanish enterprise, the 
resolution of Alexander. On the other hand, looking 
upon the principal charge against the policy of the Brit- 


ish government, that it alienated the United States, it is 
still true that there was no miscalculation as to the long- 
suffering of the latter under the guidance of Jefferson, 
with his passion for peace. The submission of the 
United States lasted until Napoleon was committed to 
his final blunder, thus justifying the risk taken by Great 
Britain and awarding to her the strategic triumph. 

The Continental System of Napoleon, here briefly 
alluded to, and to be described more fully further on, was, 
however, only the continuation, in its spirit and aims, of 
a policy outlined and initiated by the Republic under the 
Directory; which in turn but carried into its efforts 
against commerce the savage thoroughness which the 
Convention had sought to impress upon the general war. 
The principal measures of the emperor found antitypes in 
the decrees of the Directory ; the only important difference 
being, that the execution of the latter reflected the feeble 
planning and intermittent energy of the government which 
issued them ; whereas Napoleon, as always, impressed upon 
his system a vigor, and employed for its fulfilment means, 
proportioned to the arduousness of the task and the great- 
ness of the expected results. The one series being there- 
fore but the successor and fulfilment of the other, it has 
been thought best to present them in the same close con- 
nection in which they stand in the order of events, so as 
to show more clearly the unity of design running through- 
out the whole history, — a unity due to the inexorable logic 
of facts, to the existence of an external compulsion, which 
could in no other way be removed or resisted. Both in 
common owed their origin to the inability of France 
seriously to embarrass, by the ordinary operations of war, 
the great commerce of her rival, though she launched her 
national cruisers and privateers by dozens on every sea. 
The Sea Power of England held its way so steadily, pre- 
served its trade in the main so successfully, and was 
withal so evidently the principal enemy, the key of the 


hostile effort against France, that it drove not only the 
weak Directors, but the great soldier and statesman who 
followed them, into the course which led straight to 

The declarations of war were followed by the customary 
instructions to commanders of ships-of-war and privateers 
to seize and bring into port the merchant vessels of the 
enemy, as well as neutrals found violating the generally 
acknowledged principles of international law. So far 
there was nothing in the course of either belligerent that 
differed from the usual and expected acts of States at war. 
At once the sea swarmed with hastily equipped cruisers; 
and, as always happens on an unexpected, or even sudden, 
outbreak of hostilities, many valuable prizes were made 
by ships of either nation. The victims were taken un- 
awares, and the offence on each side was more active and 
efficient than the defence. This first surprise, however, 
soon passed, and was succeeded by the more regular 
course of maritime war. The great British fleets gradu- 
ally established a distinct preponderance over the masses 
of the enemy, and the latter was quickly reduced to the 
ordinary operations of commerce-destroying, in the sense 
usually given to that word, — a policy, moreover, to which 
the national tradition and the opinion of many eminent 
naval officers particularly inclined. 

To these raids upon their shipping, by numerous scat- 
tered cruisers, the British opposed a twofold system. By 
the one, their merchant vessels bound to different quarters 
of the globe were gathered in specified ports, and when 
assembled sailed together under the care of a body of 
ships of war, charged to conduct them to their voyage's 
end. This was the convoy system, the essence of which 
was to concentrate the exposed wealth of the country, under 
the protection of a force adequate to meet and drive away 
any probable enemy. Immense numbers of ships thus 
sailed together; from two to three hundred was not an 


unusual gathering; and five hundred, or even a thousand, 1 
were at times seen together in localities like the Chops 
of the Channel or the entrance to the Baltic, where the 
especial danger necessitated a stronger guard and a more 
careful acceptance of protection by the trader, — thus 
emphasizing and enlarging the peculiar features of the 
practice. It is scarcely necessary to remark that much 
time was lost in collecting such huge bodies, and that the 
common rate of sailing was far below the powers of many 
of their members ; while the simultaneous arrival of great 
quantities of the same goods tended to lower prices. Con- 
sequently, many owners, relying upon the speed of their 
vessels and upon good luck, sailed without convoy upon 
completing their cargoes, — willing, after the manner of 
merchants, to take great risks for the sake of great re- 
turns, by being first in the market. To protect these, and 
others, which, by misfortune or bad management parted 
from their convoy, as well as to maintain their general 
command of the sea, the British resorted to another sys- 
tem, which may be called that of patrol. Fast frigates 
and sloops-of-war, with a host of smaller vessels, were dis- 
seminated over the ocean, upon the tracks which commerce 
follows and to which the hostile cruisers were therefore 
constrained. To each was assigned his cruising ground, 
the distribution being regulated by the comparative dan- 
gers, and by the necessary accumulation of merchant ship- 
ping in particular localities, as the North Sea, the approach 
to the English Channel, and, generally, the centres to 
which the routes of commerce converge. The forces thus 
especially assigned to patrol duty, the ships "on a cruise," 
to use the technical expression, were casually increased by 
the large number of vessels going backward and forward 
between England and their respective stations, dispatch- 
boats, ships going in for repairs or returning from them, 

1 Life of Sir Wm. Parker, vol. i. p. 39. Ross's Life of Lord de Saumarez, 
vol. ii. p. 214. Naval Chronicle, Plymouth Report, Dec. 10, 1800. 


so that the seas about Europe were alive with British 
cruisers; each one of which was wide-awake for prizes. 
To these again were added the many privateers, whose 
cruising ground was not indeed assigned by the govern- 
ment, but which were constrained in their choice by the 
same conditions that dictated at once the course of the 
trader and the lair of the commerce-destroyer. 

Through this cloud of friends and foes the unprotected 
merchantman had to run the gantlet, trusting to his heels. 
If he were taken, all indeed was not lost, for there re- 
mained the chance of re-capture by a friendly cruiser; but 
in that case the salvage made a large deduction from the 
profits of the voyage. The dangers thus run were not, 
however, solely at the risk of the owner ; for, not to speak 
of the embarrassment caused to others by the failure of 
one merchant, the crews of the ships, the sailors, consti- 
tuted a great potential element of the combatant force of 
the nation. A good seaman, especially in those days of 
simple weapons, was more than half ready to become at 
once a fighting man. In this he differed from an untrained 
landsman, and the customs of war therefore kept him, 
whenever taken afloat, a prisoner till exchanged. Every 
merchant ship captured thus diminished the fighting 
power of Great Britain, and the losses were so numerous 
that an act, known as the Convoy Act, was passed in 
1798, compelling the taking of convoy and the payment of 
a certain sum for the protection. In the first year of its 
imposition this tax brought in £1,292,000 to the Treas- 
ury, while resulting in a yet greater saving of insurance 
to owners ; and the diminished number of prizes taken by 
the French was thought to be a serious inconvenience to 
them, at a time when, by the admission of the Directory, 
foreign commerce under their own flag was annihilated. 
This remarkable confession, and the experience which 
dictated the Convoy Act, may together be taken as an 
indication that, in the defence and attack of commerce, 


as in other operations of war, concentration of effort will 
as a rule be found a sounder policy than dissemination. 
In 1795 the French formally abandoned the policy of 
keeping great fleets together, as they had before done in 
their history, and took to the guerre de course. Within 
three years, ending in December, 1798, " privateers alone 
put more than twenty thousand individuals in the balance 
of exchanges favorable to England, " and " not a single mer- 
chant vessel sailed under the French flag. " x " The fate of 
almost all mere cruisers (bdtlmens armes en course) is to 
fall, a little sooner or later, into the hands of the enemy, " 
and in consequence, "out of a maritime conscription of 
eighty thousand seamen, to-day but half remain " with 
which to man the fleet. British contemporary authority 
gives 743 as the number of privateers taken from France 
alone, between the outbreak of war in 1793 and the 31st of 
December, 1800, — not to speak of 273 ships of war of the 
cruiser classes. 2 The absolute loss inflicted by the efforts 
of these vessels and their more fortunate comrades cannot 
be given with precision ; but as the result of an inquiry, the 
details of which will be presented further on, the author is 
convinced that it did not exceed two and a half per cent, 
and probably fell below two per cent of the total volume 
of British trade. This loss may be looked upon as a war 
tax, onerous indeed, but by no means insupportable ; and 
which it would be folly to think could, by itself alone, 
exercise any decisive influence upon the policy of a 
wealthy and resolute nation. Yet no country is so favor- 
ably situated as France then was for operations against 
British commerce, whether in the home waters or in the 
West Indies, at that time the source of at least a fourth 
part of the trade of the Empire. 

1 Message of Directory to Council of Five Hundred, Jan., 1799; Moni- 
teur, An 7, p. 482. 

2 McArthur, Financial and Political Facts of the Eighteenth Century, 
London, 1801, p. 308. Norman (Corsairs of France, London, 1887, App) 
gives the number of French privateers taken in the same period as 556. 


The indecisiveness of the results obtained by the French 
in their war against British shipping was not due to want 
of effort on their part. On the contrary, the activity dis- 
played by their corsairs, though somewhat intermittent, was 
at times phenomenal ; and this fact, as well as the extraor- 
dinarily favorable position of France, must be kept in view 
in estimating the probable advantages to be obtained from 
this mode of warfare. At the period in question London 
carried on more than half the commerce of Great Britain ; 
in addition to its foreign trade it was the great distribut- 
ing centre of a domestic traffic, carried on principally by 
the coasters which clustered by hundreds in the Thames. 
The annual trade of export and import to the metropolis 
was over X 60, 000, 000, and the entries and departures of 
vessels averaged between thirteen and fourteen thousand. 
Of this great going and coming of ships and wealth, nearly 
two thirds had to pass through the English Channel, no- 
where more than eighty miles wide and narrowing to 
twenty at the Straits of Dover ; while the remaining third, 
comprising the trade from Holland, Germany, and the 
Baltic, as well as the coasting trade to North Britain, 
was easily accessible from the ports of Boulogne, Dunkirk, 
and Calais, and was still further exposed after the French, 
in 1794 and 1795, obtained complete control of Belgium 
and Holland. From St. Malo to the Texel, a distance of 
over three hundred miles, the whole coast became a nest 
of privateers of all kinds and sizes, — from row-boats 
armed only with musketry and manned by a dozen men, or 
even less, up to vessels carrying from ten to twenty guns 
and having crews of one hundred and fifty. In the prin- 
cipal Channel ports of France alone, independent of Bel- 
gium and Holland, there were at one time in the winter 
of 1800 eighty-seven privateers, mounting from fourteen 
to twenty-eight guns, besides numerous row-boats. These 
were actually employed in commerce-destroying, and the 
fishing-boats of the coast were capable upon short notice 


of being fitted for that service, in which they often 

The nearness of the prey, the character of the seas, and 
the ease of making shelter either on the French or English 
shore in case of bad weather, modified very greatly the 
necessity for size and perfect sea-worthiness in the vessels 
thus used ; and also, from the shortness of the run neces- 
sary to reach the cruising ground, each one placed on this 
line of coast was easily equal to ten starting for the same 
object from a more remote base of operations. Privateers 
sailing at sundown with a fair wind from St. Malo, or 
Dieppe, or Dunkirk to cruise in the Channel, would reach 
their cruising ground before morning of the long winter 
nights of that latitude. The length of stay would be de- 
termined by their good fortune in making prizes, if un- 
molested by a British cruiser. They ventured over close 
to the English side ; they were seen at times from the 
shore seizing their prizes. 1 At Dover, in the latter part 
of 1810, " signals were out almost every day, on account 
of enemy's privateers appearing in sight. " 2 Innocent-look- 
ing fishing-boats, showing only their half-dozen men busy 
at their work, lay at anchor upon, or within, the lines 
joining headland to headland of the enemy's coast, watch- 
ing the character and appearance of passing vessels. 
When night or other favorable opportunity offered, they 
pulled quickly alongside the unsuspecting merchantman, 
which, under-manned and unwatchful, from the scarcity of 
seamen, was often first awakened to the danger by a 

1 Sir J. Barrow, then a Secretary to the Admiralty, mentions in a letter to J. 
"W. Croker, July 18, 1810, that two colliers had heen captured in sight of Rams- 
gate, close under the North Foreland , and on July 27 an ordnance hoy taken 
close under Galloper Light, in the face of the whole squadron in the Downs, 
not one of which moved. (Croker's Diary, vol. i. p. 33 ) 

2 Naval Chronicle, vol. xxiv. p. 327. For further curious particulars con- 
cerning French privateering in the narrow seas, see Nav Chron., vol. xxii. 
p. 279 ; vol. xxiv. pp. 327, 448, 460-462, 490 ; vol. xxv. pp. 32-34, 44, 203, 
293 ; vol. xxvii. pp. 102, 237. 


volley of musketry, followed by the clambering of the 
enemy to the decks. The crews, few in number, poor in 
quality, and not paid for fighting, offered usually but 
slight resistance to the overpowering assault. Boarding 
was the corsair's game, because he carried many men. 

It seems extraordinary that even the comparative impun- 
ity enjoyed by the privateers — for that it was only com- 
parative is shown by the fact that an average of fifty were 
yearly captured — should have been attained in the face 
of the immense navy of Great Britain, and the large num- 
ber of cruisers assigned to the protection of the coasts and 
the Channel. There were, however, many reasons for it. 
The privateering spirit is essentially that of the gambler 
and the lottery, and at no time was that spirit more 
widely diffused in France than in the period before us. 
The odds are not only great, but they are not easy to 
calculate. The element of chance enters very unduly, 
and when, as in the present case, the gain may be very 
great, while the immediate risk to the owner, who does not 
accompany his ship, is comparatively small, the disposition 
to push venture after venture becomes irresistible. The 
seaman, who risks his liberty, is readily tempted by high 
wages and the same hope of sudden profits that moves the 
owner; and this was more especially true at a time when 
the laving up of the fleets, and the disappearance of the 
merchant shipping, threw seafaring men wholly upon the 
coasting trade or privateering. The number of ships and 
men so engaged is thus accounted for; but among them 
and among the owners there was a certain proportion who 
pursued the occupation with a thoughtfulncss and method 
which would distinguish a more regular business, and 
which, while diminishing the risk of this, very much in- 
creased the returns. Vessels were selected, or built, with 
special reference to speed and handiness; captains were 
chosen in whom seamanlike qualities were joined to par- 
ticular knowledge of the British coast and the routes of 

VOL. II. — 14 


British trade; the conditions of wind and weather were 
studied; the long winter nights were preferred because of 
the cover they afforded ; they knew and reckoned upon the 
habits of the enemy's ships-of-war; account was kept of 
the times of sailing and arrival of the large convoys. l On 
the British side, a considerable deduction must be made 
from the efficiency indicated by the mere number of the 
coast cruisers. Many of them were poor sailers, quite 
unable to overtake the better and more dangerous class of 
privateers. The inducements to exertion were not great; 
for the privateer meant little money at best, and the 
abuses that gathered round the proceedings of the Admi- 
ralty Courts often swallowed up that little in costs. The 
command of the small vessels thus employed fell largely 
into the hands of men who had dropped hopelessly out of the 
race of life, while their more fortunate competitors were 
scattered on distant seas, and in better ships. To such, 
the slight chance of a bootless prize was but a poor in- 
ducement to exposure and activity, on the blustering nights 
and in the dangerous spots where the nimble privateer, 
looking for rich plunder, was wont to be found. It was 
worth more money to recapture a British merchantman 
than to take a French cruiser. 

Privateering from the Atlantic, or Biscay, coast of 
France was necessarily carried on in vessels of a very 
different class from those which frequented the Channel. 
There was no inducement for the merchant ships of 
Great Britain to pass within the line from Ushant to 
Cape Finisterre ; while, on the other hand, her ships-of- 
war abounded there, for the double purpose of watching 
the French fleets in the ports, and intercepting both the 
enemy's cruisers and their prizes, as they attempted to 
enter. For these reasons, privateers leaving Bordeaux, 
Bayonne, or Nantes, needed to be large and seaworthy, 

1 See, for example, the account of the privateer captain, Jean Blackeman 
Nav. Chron., vol. xii. p. 454. 


provisioned and equipped for distant voyages and for a 
long stay at sea. Their greatest danger was met near 
their home ports, either going or returning; and their 
hopes were set, not upon the small and often unprofitable 
coaster, but upon the richly laden trader from the East or 
West Indies or the Mediterranean. Out, therefore, beyond 
the line of the enemy's blockade, upon the deep sea and on 
one of the great commercial highways converging toward 
the Channel, was their post; there to remain as long as 
possible, and not lightly to encounter again the perils of 
the Bay of Biscay. Moreover, being larger and more 
valuable, the owner had to think upon their defence ; they 
could not, like the cheap Channel gropers, be thrown 
away in case of any hostile meeting. While they could 
not cope with the big frigates of the enemy, there were 
still his smaller cruisers, and the hosts of his privateers, 
that might be met ; and many a stout battle was fought by 
those French corsairs. One of these, the "Bordelais," 
taken in 1799, was said then to be the largest of her kind 
sailing out of France. She had the keel of a 38-gun frig- 
ate, carried twenty-four 12-pounder guns, and a crew of 
two hundred and twenty men. In four years this ship 
had captured one hundred and sixty prizes, and was said 
to have cleared to her owners in Bordeaux a million 
sterling. 1 

A third most important and lucrative field for the enter- 
prise of French privateers was found in the West Indies. 
The islands of Guadaloupe and Martinique served as ex- 
cellent bases of operations. The latter indeed was for 
many years in British possession, but the former remained, 
practically without interruption, in the hands of France 
until its capture in 1810. During the many years of 
close alliance, from 1796 to 1808, between France and 
Spain, the West Indian ports of the latter served not only 
to maintain her own privateers, but to give a wide exten- 

1 Naval Chronicle, vol. ii. p. 535 ; vol. iii. p. 151. 


sion to the efforts of her more active partner. The geo- 
graphical and climatic conditions of this region tended also 
to modify the character both of the cruisers and of their 
methods. Along with a very large European trade, car- 
ried on by ships of an average burden of two hundred and 
fifty tons, there was also a considerable traffic from island 
to island by much smaller vessels. This local trade was 
not only between the possessions of the same nation or of 
friendly States, but existed also, by means of neutrals or 
contraband, between those of powers at war ; and through 
these and her system of free ports, together with liberal 
modifications of her commercial code wherever an ad- 
vantage could thereby be gained, Great Britain succeeded 
in drawing into her own currents, in war as well as 
in peace, the course of much of the export and import of 
the whole Caribbean Sea and Spanish Main. From these 
two kinds of trade — combined with the general good 
weather prevailing, with the contiguity of the islands to 
each other, and with the numerous ports and inlets scat- 
tered throughout their extent — there arose two kinds of 
privateering enterprise. The one, carried on mainly by 
large and fast-sailing schooners or brigs, was found gen- 
erally suitable for undertakings directed against ships 
bound to or from Europe; while for the other the various 
islands abounded with small row-boats or other petty craft, 
each with its group of plunderers, which lay in wait and 
usually in profound concealment to issue out upon the 
passing trader. 1 The uncertain character of the wind in 
some parts of the day particularly favored an attack, by 
two or three heavily manned rowing boats, upon a vessel 
large enough to take them all on board bodily, but fettered 
by calm and with a small crew. On one occasion a United 
States sloop-of-war, lying thus motionless with her ports 

1 In 1806, on the Jamaica station alone, were captured by the British 
forty-eight public or private armed vessels, two of which were frigates, the 
rest small. (Nav. Chron., vol. xvii. pp. 255, 337.) 


closed, was taken for a merchantman and assailed by 
several of these marauders, who then paid dearly for the 
mistake into which they had been led by her seemingly 
unarmed and helpless condition. 

The remoteness of this region from Europe covered very 
great irregularities, both by the privateers and in the 
courts. This evil became greater in the French and 
Spanish islands, when, by the progress of the war, the 
Sea Power of Great Britain more and more broke off cor- 
respondence between them and the mother countries ; and 
when Napoleon's aggression drove the Spaniards into rev- 
olution and anarchy, the control of Spain, always inert, 
became merely nominal. These circumstances, coinciding 
with the presence of a very large neutral shipping, mainly 
belonging to the United States, whose geographical near- 
ness made her one of the chief sources of supplies to these 
colonies, caused the privateering of the Latin and mixed 
races to degenerate rapidly into piracy, towards which 
that mode of warfare naturally tends. As early as 1805, 
an American insurance company complained to the Sec- 
retary of State that " property plundered by real or pre- 
tended French privateers was uniformly taken into the 
ports of Cuba, and there, with the connivance of the 
Spanish government, was sold and distributed, without 
any form of trial, or pretence for legal condemnation." 1 
And the United States consul at Santiago de Cuba re- 
ported officially that more than a thousand American sea- 
men had been landed in that port, most of them without 
clothes or any means of support; and that "the scene of 
robbery, destruction, evasion, perjury, cruelty, and insult, 
to which the Americans captured by French pirates, and 
brought into this and adjacent ports, have been subjected, 
has perhaps not been equalled in a century past." 1 This 
lawlessness ended, as is generally known, in an actual 
prevalence of piracy on an extensive scale, about the 

1 American State Papers, vol. ii. pp. 670, 771. 


south side of Cuba and other unfrequented parts of the 
archipelago, for some years after the war. From the char- 
acter of the ground and the slow communications of the 
day, these desperadoes were finally put down only by the 
systematic and long continued efforts of the various 
governments concerned. 

The Eastern trade of Great Britain was in the hands of 
the East India Company ; and its ships, which carried on 
the intercourse between India and Europe, were of a 
size altogether exceptional in those days. At a time 
when a small ship-of-the-line measured from fourteen to 
sixteen hundred tons, and the traders between America 
and Europe averaged under three hundred, a large pro- 
portion of the East Indiamen were of twelve hundred tons 
burden, exceeding considerably the dimensions of a first- 
class frigate. 1 Being pierced for numerous guns and car- 
rying many men, both crew and passengers, among whom 
often figured considerable detachments of troops, they 
presented a very formidable appearance, and were more 
than once mistaken for ships of war by French cruisers ; 
so much so that in the year 1804 a body of them in the 
China seas, by their firm bearing and compact order, im- 
posed upon a hostile squadron of respectable size, com- 
manded by an admiral of cautious temper though of 
proved courage, making him for a brief period the laugh- 
ing stock of both hemispheres, and bringing down on his 
head a scathing letter from the emperor. Their arma- 
ment, however, was actually feeble, especially in the 
earlier part of the French Revolution. About the year 
1801, it was determined to increase it so that the larger 
ships should carry thirty-eight 18-pounclers ; 2 but the 
change seems to have been but imperfectly effected, and 

1 James (Naval Hist., ed. 1878, vol. iii p. 249) says that though denomi- 
nated 1,200-ton ships, the registered tonnage of most exceeds 1,300, and in 
some cases amounts to 1,500 tons. 

2 Nav. Chronicle, vol. vi. p. 251. 


upon the occasion in question the ships which thus 
"bluffed 1 ' Admiral Linois were none of them a match for 
a medium frigate. It is, indeed, manifestly impossible to 
combine within the same space the stowage of a rich and 
bulky cargo and the fighting efficiency of a ship of war of 
the same tonnage. Still, the batteries, though propor- 
tionately weak, were too powerful for ordinary privateers 
to encounter, unless by a fortunate surprise ; and, as the 
French entertained great, if not exaggerated, ideas of the 
dependence of Great Britain upon her Indian possessions, 
considerable efforts were made to carry on commerce- 
destroying in the Eastern seas by squadrons of heavy 
frigates, re-enforced occasionally by ships-of-the-line. 
These were the backbone of the guerre de course, but 
their efforts were supplemented by those of numerous 
privateers of less size, that preyed upon the coasting 
trade and the smaller ships, which, from China to the 
Red Sea, and throughout the Indian Ocean, whether 
under British or neutral flags, were carrying goods of 
British origin. 

At the outbreak of the war Great Britain was taken 
unawares in India, as everywhere; and, as the operations 
in Europe and in the West Indies called for the first care 
of the government, the Indian seas were practically aban- 
doned to the enemy for over a year. After the fall of 
Pondicherry, in September, 1T93, Admiral Cornwallis 
returned to Europe with all his small squadron, leaving 
but a Bingle sloop-of-war to protect the vast expanse of 
ocean covered by the commerce of the East India Com- 
pany. 1 Not till the month of October, 1794, did his 
successor reach the station. Under these circumstances 
the losses were inevitably aevere, and would have been yet 
more heavy had not the company itself fitted out several 

1 Brenton's Naval Hist, (first ed.) vol. i. p. 346 Low's Indian Navy 
vol. i 204. 


ships to cruise for the protection of trade. 1 An animated 
warfare, directed solely toward the destruction and pro- 
tection of commerce, now ensued for several years, and 
was marked by some exceedingly desperate and well- 
contested frigate actions; as well as by many brilliant 
exploits of French privateersmen, among whom the name 
of Robert Surcouf has attained a lasting celebrity. De- 
pending at first upon the islands of France and Bourbon 
as their base of operations, the distance of these from the 
peninsula of Hindoostan, combined with the size of the 
East India ships, compelled the employment of relatively 
large vessels, able to keep the sea for long periods and to 
carry crews which would admit of many detachments to 
man prizes without unduly weakening the fighting capac- 
ity. When, in 1795, the conquest of Holland and flight 
of the Orange government turned the Dutch from enemies 
into allies of France, their colonies and ports became ac- 
cessories of great importance to the cruisers, owing to 
their nearness to the scene of action and especially to 
the great trade route between China and Europe. On the 
other hand the British, long debarred from rewards for 
their efforts, other than recaptures of their own merchant 
ships, now found the whole of the Dutch trade thrown 
open to them, and the returns bear witness both to its 
numbers and to their activity. 

Notwithstanding, however, the unprotected state of 
British commerce in the early years of the war, and the 
distinguished activity of the French cruisers, the insur- 
ance premiums at no time rose to the sums demanded in 
1782, when a concentrated effort to control the sea by a 
fleet, under Admiral Suffren, was made by France. 2 At 

1 Low's Indian Navy, vol. i. 205. Milburn's Oriental Commerce, vol. i. 405. 

2 The premium of insurance, which had in 1782 been fifteen guineas per 
cent on ships engaged in the trade with China and India, did not exceed half 
that rate at any period between the spring of 1793 and the end of the 
struggle. (Lindsay's Merchant Shipping, vol. ii. 265. See also Chalmer's 
Historical View, pp. 308-310.) 


that time the premiums were fifteen per cent; between 
1798 and 1805 they fluctuated between eight and twelve 
per cent. In 1805 the chief command in the Indian seas 
was given to Rear- Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, after- 
wards Lord Exmouth, and by his skilful arrangements 
such security was afforded to the trade from Bombay to 
China, one of the most exposed parts of the Eastern com- 
mercial routes, that the premium fell to eight per cent, 
with a return of three per cent, if sailing with convoy. 
Under this systematic care the losses by capture amounted 
to but one per cent on the property insured, being less 
than those by the dangers of the sea. 1 But during the 
very period that these happy results were obtained by 
wisely applying the principle of concentration of effort 
to the protection of commerce, disaster was overtaking 
the trade of Calcutta; which lost nineteen vessels in two 
months through the neglect of its merchants to accept the 
convoys of the admiral. 2 In fact, as the small propor- 
tionate loss inflicted by scattered cruisers appears to indi- 
cate the inconclusiveness of that mode of warfare, so the 
result of the convoy system, in this and other instances, 
warrants the inference that, when properly systematized 
and applied, it will have more success as a defensive 
measure than hunting for individual marauders, — a pro- 
cess which, even when most thoroughly planned, still 
resembles looking for a needle in a haystack. 

Soon after this time the British government reverted 
most properly to the policy of Pitt, by directing expedi- 
tions against the enemies' colonies, the foreign bases of 
their Sea Power, and, in the absence of great fleets, the 
only possible support upon which commerce-destroying 
can depend ; with whose fall it must also fall. The 

1 Letter of Bombay merchants to Sir Edward Pellew ; Nav. Chron., vol. 
xxiii. 107. 

2 Robert Surcouf, by J. K. Laughton ; Colburn's United Service Maga- 
zine, 1883, part i. pp. 331, 332. 


islands of Bourbon and of France capitulated in 1810, the 
same year that saw the surrender of Guadaloupe, the last 
survivor of the French West India Islands. This was 
followed in 1811 by the reduction of the Dutch colony of 
Java. Thus " an end was put to the predatory warfare 
which had been successfully carried on against the British 
trade in India for a number of years. " 1 

While the scattered cruisers of France were thus worry- 
ing, by a petty and inconclusive warfare, the commerce of 
Great Britain and its neutral carriers, the great British 
fleets, being left in quiet possession of the seas by the 
avowed purpose of the Directory to limit its efforts to the 
guerre de course, swept from the ocean every merchant 
ship wearing a hostile flag, and imposed upon the neutral 
trade with France the extreme limitations of maritime 
international law, as held by the British courts. Toward 
the end of the war, indeed, those principles were given an 
extension, which the government itself admitted was beyond 
anything before claimed as reconcilable with recognized 
law. The precise amount of the injury done, the exact 
number of the vessels detained, sent in, and finally con- 
demned, in all parts of the world will perhaps never be 
known ; it is certainly not within the power of the present 
writer to determine them. The frequent, though not com- 
plete, returns of British admirals give some idea of the 
prevailing activity, which will also appear from the occa- 
sional details that must be cited in the latter part of this 
chapter. Into the single port of Plymouth, in the eight 
years and a half ending September 29, 1801, there were 
sent 948 vessels of all nations ; 2 of which 447 were 
enemy's property, 156 recaptured British, and the remain- 
der neutrals, belonging mostly to America, Denmark, and 
Sweden, the three chief neutral maritime states. From 
Jamaica, the British commander-in-chief reports that, 

1 Milburn's Oriental Commerce, vol. i. p. xci. 

2 Naval Chronicle, vol. vii. 276. 


between March 1 and August 3, 1800, — that is, in five 
months, — 203 vessels have been captured, detained, or 
destroyed. 1 This was in but one part of the West Indian 
Seas. The admiral at the Leeward Islands reports that 
in two months of the same year 62 vessels had been sent 
in. 1 In five months, ending September 3, 1800, Lord 
Keith reports from the Mediterranean 180 captures. 1 
How far these instances may be accepted as a fair example 
of the usual results of British cruising, it is impossible to 
say ; but it may be remarked that they all occur at a 
period when the war had been raging for seven years, 
and that captures are more numerous at the beginning 
than at the latter end of long hostilities. In war, as in 
all states of life, people learn to accommodate themselves 
to their conditions, to minimize risks; and even prize lists 
become subject to the uniformity of results observed in 
other statistics. 

Whatever the particulars of French losses, however, 
they are all summed up in the unprecedented admission 
of the Directory, in 1799, that "not a single merchant 
ship is on the sea carrying the French flag." This was 
by no means a figure of speech, to express forcibly an 
extreme depression. It was the statement of a literal 
fact. " The former sources of our prosperity, " wrote M. 
Arnould, Chef du Bureau du Commerce, as early as 1797, 
"are cither lost or dried up. Our agricultural, manufac- 
turing, and industrial power is almost extinct." And 
again he says, "The total number of registers issued to 
French ships from September, 1793, to September, 1796, 
amounts only to 6028." Of these, 3351 were undecked 
and of less than thirty tons burden. "The maritime war 
paralyzes our distant navigation and even diminishes 
considerably that on our coasts; so that a great number 
of French ships remain inactive, and perhaps decaying, in 
our ports. This remark applies principally to ships of 

1 Naval Chronicle, vol. iv. pp. 150, 151, 326. 


over two hundred tons, the number of which, according 
to the subjoined table, 1 amounts only to 248. Before the 
revolution the navigation of the seas of Europe and to the 
French colonies employed more than 2, 000 ships. " 

In the year ending September 20, 1800, according to a 
report submitted to the consuls, 2 France received directly 
from Asia, Africa, and America, all together, less than 
$300,000 worth of goods; while her exports to those three 
quarters of the world amounted to only $56,000. Whether 
these small amounts were carried in French or neutral 
bottoms is immaterial; the annihilation of French ship- 
ping is proved by them. The same report shows that the 
average size of the vessels, which, by hugging closely the 
coast, avoided British cruisers and maintained the water 
traffic between France and her neighbors, Holland, Spain, 
and Italy, was but thirty-six tons. Intercourse by water 
is always easier and, for a great bulk, quicker than by 
land ; but in those days of wagon carriage and often poor 
roads it was especially so. In certain districts of France 
great distress for food was frequently felt in those wars, 
although grain abounded in other parts ; because the sur- 
plus could not be distributed rapidly by land, nor freely 
by water. For the latter conveyance it was necessary to 
depend upon very small vessels, unfit for distant voyages, 
but which could take refuge from pursuers in the smallest 
port, or be readily beached ; and which, if captured, would 
not singly be a serious loss. 

1 Kegistration of vessels made in all ports of France (except the newly 
acquired departments) from September 1793, to September 1796 : — 

Under 30 tons 3,351 (undecked) 

Between 30 and 100 tons 1,897 

" 100 and 200 tons 532 

" 200 and 400 tons 193 

Above 400 tons 55 

It should be explained that as all ships, old as well as new, had to register, 
this gives the total of French shipping without deduction for losses. 

2 Moniteur, 26 Flore'al, An 9 (May 16, 1801). 


Towards the end of 1795, a contemporary British au- 
thority states that over three thousand British ships had 
been captured, and about eight hundred French. 1 This 
was, how ever, confessedly only an estimate, and probably, 
so far as concerns the British losses, a large exaggeration. 
Ten years later a member of the House of Commons, 
speaking with a view rather to disparage the earlier 
administration, gave the British losses for the same years 
as l,39o. 2 Lloyd's lists give the whole number of British 
captured, for the years 1793-1800, both inclusive, as 
4,344, of which 705 were recaptured; leaving a total loss 
of 3,G39. 3 Assuming, what is only for this purpose ad- 
missible, that the average loss each year was nearly the 
same, these figures would give for the three years, 1793- 
179o, 1,365 as the number of captures made by hostile 
cruisers. In the tables appended to Norman's "Corsairs 
of France" the losses for the same period are given as 
l,63f>. 4 

Finally, the number of prizes brought into French ports 
up to September 16, 1798, was stated by M. Arnould, in 
the Conscil des Anciens, as being 2,658. The table 
from which his figures were taken he called "an authentic 
list, just printed, drawn up in the office of the French Min- 
istry of Marine, of all prizes made since the outbreak of the 
war." 5 It included vessels of all nationalities, during a 
period when France had not only been at war with several 
states, but had made large seizures of neutral vessels 
upon various pretexts. Of the entire number M. Arnould 

1 Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. 359. 

2 Cobbett'a Pari. Debates, March 15, 1804, p. 921. 

3 Naval Chronicle, vol. xvii. p. 3G9. 

4 Norman gives the total number of captures, 1793-1800, as 5,158 against 
Lloyd's 3,6391 Through the kindness of Captain II. M. Hosier, Secretary of 
Lloyd's, the author has received a list of British ships taken, annually, 1793- 
1814. This list makes the numbers considerably less than the earlier one 
used in the text. By it, between 1793 and 1800, both inclusive, only 3,466 
British ships wore captured. 

6 Moniteur, 16 Pinvidse, An 7 (Feb. 5, 1799), pp. 582, 583. 


considered that not more than 2,000 were British. If we 
accept his estimate, only 900 British ships would have 
been taken in three years. It is to be observed, however, 
as tending to reconcile the discrepancy between this and 
the English accounts, that the tables used by him probably 
did not give, or at most gave very imperfectly, the French 
captures made in the East and West Indies ; and, further- 
more, the aggregate British losses, as given by Lloyd's 
lists, and by Norman's tables, include captures made by 
the Dutch and Spaniards as well as by the French. 1 

The British reports of their own losses are thus seen 
largely to exceed those made by the French. According 
equal confidence to the statements of Sir William Curtis, 
of Norman, and of Lloyd's list, we should reach an an- 
nual loss by capture of 488 British ships , which would give 
a total, in the twenty-one years of war, from 1793-1814, 2 
of 10,248. Norman's grand total of 10,871 considerably 
exceeds this amount; but it will be safer, in considering a 
subject of so great importance as the absolute injury done, 
and effect produced, by war upon commerce, to accept the 
larger figure, or to say, in round numbers, that eleven 

1 Guerin gives the total number of captures by France from Great Britain, 
from 1793 to the Peace of Amiens, March 25, 1802, including both ships of 
war and merchant vessels, as 2,172 ; while the French lost in all, from ships- 
of-the-line to fishing-boats, between 1,520 and 1,550. Of this total, 27 were 
ships-of-the-line and 70 frigates, — a number considerably below that given 
by James, the painstaking English naval historian. Allowing 150 as the 
number of smaller naval vessels taken, there would remain, by Guerin's 
estimate, about 1,300 French trading vessels which fell into British hands 
Of these a large proportion must have been the chasse-marees that car 
ried on the coasting trade (as their expressive name implies) , attacks on 
which formed so frequent and lucrative a diversion from the monotony of 
blockade service. (Hist. Mar de la France, vol. iii p. 674.) 

Guerin claims great carefulness, but the author owns to much distrust of 
his accuracy It is evident, however, from all the quotations, that Fox's state- 
ment, May 24, 1795, that in the second year of the war France had taken 860 
ships, was much exaggerated. (Speeches, vol. v. p. 419. Longman's, 1815.) 

2 In this period of twenty-two years there were eighteen months of mari- 
time ^eace. 


thousand British vessels were captured by the enemy 
during the protracted and desperate wars caused by the 
French Revolution. It is the great and conspicuous in- 
stance of commerce-destroying, carried on over a long 
series of years, with a vigor and thoroughness never sur- 
passed, and supported, moreover, by an unparalleled 
closure of the continental markets of Great Britain. The 
Directory first, and Napoleon afterwards, abandoned all 
attempts to contest the control of the sea, and threw 
themselves, as Louis XIV. had done before them, wholly 
upon a cruising war against commerce. It will be well 
in this day, when the same tendency so extensively pre- 
vails, to examine somewhat carefully what this accepted 
loss really meant, how it was felt by the British people at 
the time, and what expectation can reasonably be deduced 
from it that, by abandoning military control of the sea, 
and depending exclusively upon scattered cruisers, a 
country dependent as Great Britain is upon external com- 
merce can be brought to terms. 

Evidently, a mere statement of numbers, such as the 
above, without any particulars as to size, or the value of 
cargoes, affords but a poor indication of the absolute or 
relative loss sustained by British commerce. It may, 
however, be used as a basis, both for comparison with 
the actual number of vessels entering and clearing annu- 
ally from British ports, and also for an estimate as to the 
probable tonnage captured. The annual average of capture, 
deduced from 11,000 ships in twenty-one years is 524. In 
the three years 1793-1795, the average annual number of 
British vessels entering and clearing from ports of Great 
Britain was 21,560.! Dividing by 524, it is found that 
one fortieth, or two and a half per cent of British ship- 
ping, reckoning by numbers, was taken by the enemy. 
In the three years 1798-1800, 1801 being the year of 
broken hostilities, the average annual entries and depart - 

1 Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. 


ures were 21, 369, 1 which again gives two and a half as 
the percentage of the captures. It must be noted, also, 
that only the commerce of England and Scotland with 
foreign countries, with the colonies, with Ireland and the 
Channel Islands, and with British India enters into these 
lists of arrivals and departures. The returns of that day 
did not take account of British coasters, nor of the local 
trade of the colonies, nor again of the direct intercourse 
between Ireland and ports other than those of Great 
Britain. Yet all these contributed victims to swell the 
list of prizes, 1 and so to increase very materially the 
apparent proportion of the latter to a commerce of which 
the returns cited present only a fraction. Unfortunately, 
the amount of the coasting trade cannot now be ascer- 
tained, 2 and the consequent deduction from the cal- 
culated two and a half per cent of loss can only be 

To obtain the tonnage loss there appears to the writer 
no fairer means than to determine the average tonnage of 
the vessels entering and departing as above, at different 
periods of the war. In the three years 1793-1795, the 
average size of each ship entering or sailing from the 
ports of Great Britain, including the Irish trade, was 121 
tons. In the year 1800 the average is 126 tons. In 1809 
it has fallen again to 121, and in 1812 to 115 tons. We 
cannot then go far wrong in allowing 125 tons as the 
average size of British vessels employed in carrying on 
the foreign and the coasting trade of Great Britain itself 

1 Thus it is told of one of the most active of French privateersmen, sail- 
ing out of Dunkirk, that " the trade from London to Berwick, in the smacks, 
was his favorite object ; not only from the value of the cargoes, but because 
they required few hands to man them, and from their good sailing were 
almost sure to escape British cruisers and get safely into ports of France or 
Holland." Between 1793 and 1801 this one man had taken thirty-four prizes. 
(Nav. Chron., vol. xii. p. 454 ) 

2 Returns of the coasting trade were not made until 1824. Porter's 
Progress of the Nation, section iii p. 77. 


during the war. 1 On this allowance the aggregate ton- 
nage lost in the 11,000 British prizes, would be 1,875,000 
in twenty-one years. In these years the aggregate British 
tonnage entering and leaving the ports of Great Britain, 
exclusive of the great neutral tonnage employed in carry- 
ing for the same trade, amounted to over 55,000,000 ; 2 so 
that the loss is again somewhat less than one fortieth, or 
2£ per cent. 

Another slight indication of the amount of loss, curious 
from its coincidence with the above deductions, is derived 
from the report of prize goods received into France in the 
year ending September, 1800, which amounted to 29,201, 
676 francs. At the then current value of the franc this 
was equivalent to .£1,216,000. The real value of British 
exports for 1800 was £56,000,000, the prize goods again 
being rather less than one fortieth of the amount. The 
imports, however, being also nearly £56,000,000, the loss 

1 The merchant vessels of that day were generally small. From Mae- 
pherson's tables it appears that those trading between Great Britain and the 
United States, between 1792 and 1800, averaged from 200 to 230 tons , those 
to the West Indies and the Baltic about 250 ; to Germany, to Italy, and the 
Western Mediterranean, 150; to the Levant, 250 to 300, with some of 500 
tons. The East India Company's ships, as has been said, were larger, aver- 
aging nearly 800 tons. The general average is reduced to that above given 
(125) by the large number of vessels in the Irish trade. In 1796 there were 
13,558 entries and clearances from English and Scotch ports for Ireland, 
being more than half the entire number (not tonnage) of British ships em- 
ployed in so-called foreign trade. The average size of these was only 80 tons. 
(Macpherson.) In 1806 there were 13,939 for Ireland to 5,211 for all other 
parts of tbo world, the average tonnage again being 80. (Porter's Progress 
of the Nation, part ii. pp. 85, 174.) 

Sir William Parker, an active frigate captain, who commanded the same 
ship from 1801 to 1811, was in that period interested in 52 prizes. The aver- 
age tonnage of these, excluding a ship-of-the-line and a frigate, was 126 tons. 
(Life. vol. i. p. 412.) 

In 1798, 6,844 coasters entered or left London, their average size being 73 
tons. The colliers were larger. Of the latter 3,289 entered or sailed, having 
a mean tonnage of 228. (Colquhoun's Commerce of the Thames, p. 13.) 

2 The returns for 1813 were destroyed by fire, and so an exact aggregate 
cannot be given. Two million tons are allowed for that year, which is, prob- 
ably too little. 

vol. ii. — 15 


on the entire amount falls to one eightieth. It is true that 
many of these prize goods were probably taken in neutrals, 
but on the other hand the report does not take into ac- 
count French capture in the colonies and East Indies; nor 
those made by Holland and Spain, the allies of France. 

If the total number of vessels belonging to Great 
Britain and all her dependencies be taken, as the standard 
by which to judge her loss by captures, it will be found 
that in 1795 they amounted to 16, 728 ; > in 1800, 17, 885 ; 1 
in 1805, 22,051; 2 in 1810, 23,703. 2 Using again 524 as 
the annual number of captures, the annual proportion of 
loss is seen gradually to fall from a very little over 3 per 
cent, in the first year, to somewhat less than 2h per cent, 
in the last. 

Finally, it may be added that the Lloyd's list before 
quoted gives the total number of losses by sea risks, 
1793-1800, as 2,967; which, being contrasted with the 
losses by capture, 3,639, shows that the danger from 
enemy's cruisers very little exceeded those of the ocean. 
To offset, though only partially, her own losses, Great 
Britain received prize goods, during the same years, to 
the amount of over £5, 000, 000. 3 There were also en- 
gaged in carrying on her commerce, in 1801, under the 
British flag, 2,779 vessels, measuring 369,563 tons, that 
had been brought into her ports as prizes ; which numbers 
had increased in 1811 to 4,023 ships and 536,240 tons. 4 

Taking everything together, it seems reasonable to con- 
clude that the direct loss to the nation, by the operation 
of hostile cruisers, did not exceed 2J per cent of the com- 
merce of the Empire; and that this loss was partially 
made good by the prize ships and merchandise taken by 

1 Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. 368, 535. 

2 Porter's Progress of the Nation, part ii. p. 171. 

3 Chalmer's Historical View, p. 307. 

4 Porter, part ii. p. 173. The Naval Chronicle, vol. xxix. p. 453, gives an 
official tabular statement of prize-vessels admitted to registry between 1793 
and 1812. In 1792 there were but 609, total tonnage 93,994. 



its own naval vessels and privateers. A partial, if not a 
complete, compensation for her remaining loss is also to 
be found in the great expansion of her mercantile opera- 
tions carried on under neutral flags ; for, although this too 
was undoubtedly harassed by the enemy, yet to it almost 
entirely was due the increasing volume of trade that 
poured through Great Britain to and from the continent 
of Europe, every ton of which left a part of its value to 
swell the bulk of British wealth, The writings of the 
period show that the injuries due to captured shipping 
passed unremarked amid the common incidents and mis- 
fortunes of life; neither their size nor their effects were 
great enough to attract public notice, amid the steady 
increase of national wealth and the activities concerned 
in amassing it. "During all the operations of war and 
finance," says one writer, u the gains of our enterprising 
people were beyond all calculation, however the unproduc- 
tive classes may have suffered from the depreciation of 
money and the inequalities of taxation. Our commerce 
has become more than double its greatest extent during 
the happiest years of peace." 1 There were, indeed, darker 
shades to the picture, for war means suffering as well as 
effort; but with regard to the subject-matter of this chap- 
ter, Commerce, and its fate in this war, there was for 
many years but one voice, for but one was possible. The 
minister, essentially a master of trade and finance, de- 
lighted year by year to enlarge upon the swelling volume 
of business and the growing returns of the revenue. Not 
only did the new taxes bring in liberally, but the older 
ones were increasingly productive. These signs of pros- 
perity were not seen all at once. The first plunge into 
the war was followed, as it always is, by a shrinking of 
the system and a contraction of the muscles; but as the 
enemy more and more surrendered the control of the sea, 
as the naval victories of the years 1797 and 1798 empha- 

1 Ohalmer's Historical View, p. 351. 


sized more and more the absolute dominion of Great 
Britain over it, and as the new channels of enterprise be- 
came familiar, the energies of the people expanded to 
meet the new opportunities. 

The share borne by neutral shipping in the extension 
and maintenance of this extraordinary fabric of prosperity, 
thus existing in the midst of all the sorrow, suffering, 
and waste of war, must next be considered; for it was the 
cause of the remarkable measures taken by both belliger- 
ents against neutral trade, which imparted so singular 
and desolating a character to the closing years of the 
struggle and affected deeply the commerce of the whole 
world. At the very beginning of the war Great Britain 
proceeded to avail herself of the services of neutrals, by a 
remission of that part of the Navigation Act which re- 
quired three fourths of the crews of British merchantmen 
to be British subjects. On the 30th of April, 1793, this 
was so modified as to permit three fourths to be foreigners, 
to replace the large body taken for the fleets. This was 
followed, from time to time, as the number of enemies 
multiplied through the extending conquests and alliances 
of France, by a series of orders and proclamations, infring- 
ing more and more upon the spirit of the Act, with the 
direct and obvious purpose of employing neutral vessels 
to carry on operations hitherto limited to the British 
flag. The demands of the navy for seamen, the risks of 
capture, the delays of convoy, entirely arrested, and even 
slightly set back, the development of the British carrying 
trade ; while at the same time the important position of 
Great Britain as the great manufacturing nation, coincid- 
ing with a diminution in the productions of the Continent, 
consequent upon the war, and a steadily growing demand 
for manufactured goods on the part of the United States, 
called imperiously for more carriers. The material of 
British traffic was increasing with quickened steps, at the 
very time that her own shipping was becoming less able 


to bear it. Thus in 1797, when the British navy was 
forced to leave the Mediterranean, all the Levant trade, 
previously confined to British ships, was thrown open to 
every neutral. In 1798, being then at war with Spain, 
the great raw material, Spanish wool, essential to the 
cloth manufactures, was allowed to enter in vessels of any 
neutral country. The produce even of hostile colonics 
could be imported by British subjects in neutral bottoms, 
though not for consumption in England, but for re-expor- 
tation; a process by which it paid a toll to Great Britain, 
without directly affecting the reserved market of the Brit- 
ish colonist. The effect of these various conditions and 
measures can best be shown by a few figures, which indi- 
cate at once the expansion of British commerce, the arrest 
of British carrying trade, and the consequent growth of 
the neutral shipping. In 1792, the last year of peace, the 
total British exports and imports amounted to £44,565,000 ; 
in 1796 to £53,706,000 ; in 1800, the last unbroken year of 
war, to £73, 723, 000. 2 For the same years the carrying of 
this trade was done, in 1792, by 3,151,389 tons of British, 
and 479, 630 tons of foreign shipping; in 1796, by 2,629,575 
British, and 998,427 foreign; in 1800, by 2,825,078 British 
and 1,448,287 foreign. Thus, while there was so great an 
increase in the commerce of the kingdom, and it employed 
nearly 650,000 more tons of shipping in 1800 than in 1792, 
the amount carried in British ships had fallen off; and the 
proportion of neutral bottoms had risen from thirteen to 
nearly thirty -four per cent. 

1 The amounts given are those known as the " official values," assigned 
arbitrarily to the specific articles a century before. The advantage attaching 
to this system is, that, no fluctuation of price entering as a factor, the values 
continue to represent from year to year the proportion of trade done. Offi- 
cial values are used throughout this chapter when not otherwise stated. The 
" real values," deduced from current prices, were generally much greater 
than the official. Thus, in 1800, the whole volume of trade, by official value 
.£73.723.000. was by real value £111,231,000. The figures are taken from 
Macpherson's Annals of Commerce. 


The significance of these facts could not escape the 
French government, nor yet the jealousies of certain 
classes connected with the carrying trade in Great Britain 
herself ; but in the first war the latter were not joined by 
the other powerful and suffering interests, which gradually 
impelled the ministry into a series of acts deeply injurious 
to all neutrals, but chiefly to the United States. In 
France, the early effusiveness of the revolutionists toward 
England, based upon the hope that she too would be swept 
into the torrent of their movement, had been quickly chilled 
and turned to bitterness, greater even than that which had 
so long divided the two nations. Victorious everywhere 
upon the Continent, the government saw before it only 
one unconquerable enemy, the Power of the Sea ; it knew 
that she, by her subsidies and her exhortations, maintained 
the continental states in their recurring hostilities, and it 
saw her alone, amid the general confusion and impoverish- 
ment, preserve quiet and increase a wealth which was not 
only brilliant, but solid. The Directory therefore reached 
the conclusion, which Napoleon made the basis of his policy 
and which he never wearied of proclaiming, that Great Brit- 
ain maintained the war and promoted the discord of nations 
for the simple purpose of founding her own prosperity upon 
the ruin of all other commerce, her power upon the ruin of 
all other navies. l At the same time the French government 
held tenaciously to that profound delusion, the bequest to it 
from past generations of naval officers and statesmen, that 
a war directed against the commerce of Great Britain was 
a sure means of destroying her. It knew that hosts of 
privateers were employed, and that very many British 

1 The French will not suffer a Power which seeks to found its prosperity 
upon the misfortunes of other states, to raise its commerce upon the ruin of 
that of other states, and which, aspiring to the dominion of the seas, wishes 
to introduce everywhere the articles of its own manufacture and to receive 
nothing from foreign industry, any longer to enjoy the fruit of its guilty 
speculations. — Message of Directory to the Council of Five Hundred, Jan. 
4, 1798. 


prizes were brought in; yet, withal, the great Sea Power 
moved steadily on, evidently greater and stronger as the 
years went by. It knew also that her manufactures were 
increasing, that their products filled the Continent; that 
the produce of the East and of the West, of the Baltic 
and of the Mediterranean, centred in Great Britain; and 
that through her, not the Continent only, but France 
herself, drew most of her tropical articles of consumption. 
There was but one solution for this persistent escape from 
apparently sure destruction; and that was to be found in 
the support of the neutral carrier and the pockets of the 
neutral consumer. From this premise the fatal logic of 
the French Revolution was irresistibly drawn to the con- 
clusion that, as every neutral ship engaged in the British 
carrying trade was a help to England, it was consequently 
an enemy to France and liable to capture. 1 Napoleon but 
amplified this precedent when he declared that there were 
no more neutrals, and placed before Sweden, longing only 
for quiet, the option u war with France or cannon-balls 
for English vessels approaching your ports." 

The exceptionally intense spirit which animated the par- 
ties to this war trenched with unusual severity upon the in- 
terests of neutral powers, always more or less in conflict 
with the aims of belligerents. These questions also re- 
ceived new importance, because now appeared for the first 
time a neutral maritime state, of great extent and rapidly 
growing, whose interests and ambitions at that time pointed 
to si lipping and carrying trade as forms of enterprise for 
which it had received from nature peculiar facilities. In 
all previous wars the Americans had acted as the colonists 
of Great Britain, either loyal or in revolt. In 1793 they 
had for four years been a nation in the real sense of the 
woid, and Washington's first term closed. In the very 
first Congress measures were taken for developing Ameri- 
can shipping, by differential duties upon native and 

1 Message of Directory to Council of Five Hundred, Jan. 4, 1798. 


foreign ships. 1 From the impulse thus given, combined 
with the opening offered by the increase of British trade 
and the diminished employment of British shipping, the 
ship-builders and merchants extended their operations 
rapidly. By the report of a committee of the House, 
January 10, 1803, it appears that the merchant tonnage of 
the United States was then inferior to that of no other 
country, except Great Britain. 2 In 1790 there had en- 
tered her ports from abroad 355,000 tons of her own 
shipping and 251,000 foreign, of which 217,000 were 
British. 3 In the year 1801 there entered 799,304 tons of 
native shipping, 4 and of foreign but 138, 000. 5 The amount 
of British among the latter is not stated; but in the year 
1800 there cleared from Great Britain under her own flag, 
for the United States, but 14,381 tons. 6 Figures like these 
give but a comparative and partial view of the activity of 
American shipping, leaving out of account all the carrying- 
done by it outside the ken of the home authorities ; but it is 
safe to say that the United States contributed annually at 
least six hundred thousand tons to maintain the traffic of 
the world, which, during those eventful years, centred in 
Great Britain and ministered to her power. Among the 
forms of gain thus opened to American traders there was 
one to which allusion only will here be made, because at 
a later period it became the source of very great trouble, 
leading step by step to the war of 1812. This was the 
carriage of the productions of French and other colonies, 
enemies of Great Britain, to the United States, and thence 
re-exporting them to Europe. 

1 The act imposing these duties went into effect Aug. 15, 1789. Vessels 
built in the United States, and owned by her citizens, paid an entrance duty 
of six cents per ton ; all other vessels fifty cents. A discount of ten per 
cent on the established duties was also allowed upon articles imported in 
vessels built and owned in the country. (Annals of Congress. First Con- 
gress, pp. 2131, 2132.) 

2 Am. State Papers, vol. x. 502. 8 Ibid., p. 389. 
4 Ibid., p. 528. 5 Ibid., p. 584. 
6 Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. 535. 


Besides the new state in the Western Hemisphere, 
there were three others whose isolated position had 
hitherto given them the character of neutrals in the mari- 
time wars of the eighteenth century. These were the Baltic 
countries, Russia, Denmark, and Sweden, which had com- 
bined in 1780 to defend their neutral rights, if need were, 
by force of arms. The power of this confederacy to as- 
sume the same attitude in 1793 was broken by the policy 
of Russia. By whatever motives swayed, the Empress 
Catharine took decided ground against the French Revolu- 
tion. On the 25th of March, 1793, a convention between 
her and the British government was signed, by which both 
parties agreed, not only to close their own ports against 
France and not to permit the exportation of food to that 
country, but also "to unite all their efforts to prevent 
other power*, not implicated in the war, from giving, on 
this occasion of common concern to every civilized state, 
any protection whatever, directly or indirectly in conse- 
quence of their neutrality, to the commerce or property of 
the French on the sea. " 2 How the empress understood 
this engagement was shown by her notification, during the 
same summer, to the courts of Sweden and Denmark, that 
she would station a fleet in the North Sea to prevent 
neutrals bound to France from proceeding. 2 Great Britain 
had already — June 8, 1793 — directed the commanders of 
cruisers to detain all vessels loaded with flour or grain, 
bound to French ports, and to send them to England, 
where the cargo would be purchased and freight paid by 
the British government. 3 These instructions were duly 
communicated to the government of the neutral states, 
which protested with more or less vigor and tenacity, but 
found themselves helpless to resist force with force. Sin- 

1 Am. State Papers, vol. i. 243. 

2 Annual Register, 179.3, p. 346*. 

8 Am. State Papers, i. 240. A complete series of the orders injuriously 
affecting United States commerce, issued by Great Britain and France, from 
1791 to 1808, can be found in the Am. State Papers, vol. iii. p. 262. 


gularly enough, the French government had preceded the 
British on this occasion, having issued orders to the same 
effect on the 9th of the previous May ; but the fact appears 
to have escaped the ministry, for, in justifying their action 
to the United States, they do not allude to it. Their 
course is defended on the broad ground that, from the 
character of the war and the situation of France, there 
was a fair prospect of starving her into submission, 1 and 
that under such circumstances provisions, always a ques- 
tionable article, became contraband of war. The answer 
was not satisfactory to the neutral, deprived of part of his 
expected gains, but the argument was one of those that 
admit of no appeal except to arms. A further justifica- 
tion of the order was found by the British ministry in the 
undoubted fact that "the French government itself was the 
sole legal importer of grain in France" at that time ; and 
therefore "the trade was no longer to be regarded as a 
mercantile speculation of individuals, but as an immediate 
operation of the very persons who have declared war, and 
are now carrying it on, against Great Britain." The 
American minister to France, Monroe, confirms this, in 
his letter of October 16, 1794 : " The whole commerce of 
France, to the absolute exclusion of individuals, is 
carried on by the government itself. " 2 

Soon after, on the 6th of November, 1793, another order 
was issued by the British ministry, directing the seizure 
of " all ships laden with goods the produce of any colony 
belonging to France, or carrying provisions or other sup- 
plies for the use of any such colony." This order w r as 
based upon the Rule of 1756, so called from the war in 
which it first came conspicuously into notice, and the prin- 
ciple of which, as stated by British authorities, was that 

1 Am. State Papers, i 240, 241 How probable this result was may be 
seen from the letters of Gouverneur Morris, Oct. 19, 1793, and March 6, 
1794. State Papers, vol. i. pp. 375, 404. 

2 Am. State Papers, vol. i. p. 679. 


a trade forbidden to neutrals by the laws of a country, dur- 
ing peace, could not be lawfully carried on by them in 
time of war, for the convenience of the belligerent ; be- 
cause, by such employment, their ships " were in effect 
incorporated in the enemy's navigation, having adopted 
his commerce and character and identified themselves with 
his interests and purposes." 1 At that time the colonial 
trade was generally reserved to the mother country ; and 
against it particularly, together with the coasting trade, 
similarly restricted, was this ruling of the British courts 
and government directed. Neutrals replied, " Because the 
parent country monopolizes in peace the whole commerce 
of its colonies, does it follow that in war it should have no 
right to regulate it at all ?" 2 "We deny that municipal 
regulations, established in peace, can in any wise limit 
the public rights of neutrals in time of war." 3 It is evi- 
dent that these two lines of argument do not fairly meet 
each other ; they resemble rather opposite and equal weights 
in a balance, which will quickly be overturned when pas- 
sion or interes*, combined with power, is thrown in upon 
either side. Starting from such fundamentally different 
premises, interested parties might argue on indefinitely 
in parallel lines, without ever approaching a point of 

The chief present interest in this question, referring as 
it docs to an obsolete colonial policy, is as illustrative of 
one of those dead-locks, which, occurring at a critical 
moment, when passion or interest is aroused, offer no 
solution but by war. It was useless to point out that 
Great Britain relaxed in every direction her own pence 
regulations, for the advantage of British commerce in the 

1 Wheaton'a International Law, p. 75.°,. 

2 Monroe to the British Minister of Foreign Affairs. Am. State Papers, 
vol. ii. p. 735. 

3 Reply to " War in Disguise, or Frauds of the Neutral Flag," by Gouver- 
neur Morris, New York, 1806, p. 22. 


present contest. The reply was perfectly apt, that she 
did not dispute the right of her enemy to avail himself of 
any help the neutral could give ; she only asserted the 
determination not to permit the neutral to extend it with 
impunity. There was no doubt, in the mind of any con- 
siderable body of Englishmen, as to the perfect soundness 
of the English doctrine. Lord Howick, who, as Mr. Grey, 
had embarrassed his party in 1792 by the exuberance of 
his liberalism, 1 as foreign minister in 1807 wrote : 
"Neutrality, properly considered, does not consist in 
taking advantage of every situation between belligerent 
states by which emolument may accrue to the neutral, 
whatever may be the consequences to either belligerent 
party ; but in observing a strict and honest impartiality, 
so as not to afford advantage in the war to either ; and, 
particularly, in so far restraining its trade to the accus- 
tomed course which it held in time of peace, as not to 
render assistance to one belligerent in escaping the 
effects of the other's hostilities." 2 An agreement among 
any number of the subjects of the interested nation proves 
nothing as to the right of the question, but the irrecon- 
cilable divergence of views at this time shows most 
clearly the necessity, under which every country lies, to be 
ready to support its own sense of its rights and honor by 
force, if necessary. 

Under the order of November 6, some hundreds of 
American ships were seized and brought into West Indian 
ports by British cruisers. 3 The application of the order 
to them was, however, liable to two serious objections, 
even admitting the principle. In the first place, it was 
made without warning, under a rule that was at least not 

1 Russell's Life of Fox, vol. ii. p. 281. 

2 Letter to Danish Minister, March 17, 1807. Cobbett's Pari. Debates, 
vol. x. p. 406. 

3 A letter from an American consul in the West Indies, dated March 7, 
1794, gives 220 as the number. This was, however, only a partial account, 
the orders having been recently received. (Am. State Papers, i. p. 429.) 


generally accepted ; and in the second place, the trade 
between the French West India Islands and the United 
States had been permitted, before the war, in vessels of 
sixty tons and upwards. 1 In the year ending September 
30, 1790, fifty-seven thousand tons of American shipping 
entered home ports from the French colonies. The trade, 
therefore, was one that existed prior to the war, and so 
did not come under the rule of 1756. 2 The order of No- 
vember 6 was not made public until nearly the end of the 
year; the United States minister in London not receiving 
a copy until Christmas Day. He hastened at once to pro- 
test, but before he could obtain an audience a second was 
issued, January 8, 1794, revoking the former and limiting 
the operations of the rule to vessels bound from the colo- 
nies direct to Europe. Although the principle was main- 
tained by the new order, and not admitted by the United 
States, still, as their own trade was excepted, much dis- 
satisfaction w r as removed. 

The serious nature of the difficulties that had already 
arisen determined the government to send an extraordinary 
envoy to England. John Jay was nominated to this office, 
and reached London in June, 1794. The British govern- 
ment, having already receded from its first position, as 
well as revoked the order of June 8, 1793, for the seizure 
of provisions, found no difficulty in assuming a concilia- 
tory attitude. The result of Jay's mission was a treaty of 
Commerce and Navigation, concluded November 19, 1794, 
the first contracted between the two countries since the 
separation. The injuries done to American commerce, 
under the orders of November 6, were to be submitted to 

1 By the ordinance of Aug. 30, 1784. See Annals of Congress, Jan. 13, 
1794, p. 192. 

2 The National Convention, immediately after the outhreak of war, on the 
17th of February, 1793, gave a great extension to the existing permission of 
trade between the United States and the French colonies; but this could not 
affect the essential fact that the trade, under some conditions, had been al- 
lowed in peace. 


a joint commission. The report of the latter was not 
made until 1804, but by it compensation was made for 
most of the seizures ; and it was claimed in the following 
year by Mr. Monroe, then envoy in London, that the 
decision of the commission definitely disposed of the 
principle of the Rule of 1756. It does not appear, how- 
ever, that its power extended further than the settlement 
of the cases. There, its decision was to be final ; but it 
had no power to commit either government to any general 
principle of international law not otherwise established. 1 
The Rule of 1756 was not mentioned in the treaty, and 
the failure to do so may be construed as a tacit acquies- 
cence, or at least submission, on the part of the United 
States. 2 On the other hand, considerable commercial ad- 
vantages were obtained. Great Britain conceded to 
American ships the privilege of direct trade between 
their own country and the British East and West Indies, 
but they were precluded from carrying the produce of 
those colonies to other foreign ports. Indeed, so great 
was the anxiety of the British ministers to prevent coffee 
and sugar from being taken to Europe, indirectly, by 
neutral ships, that they insisted upon, and Jay admitted, 
a stipulation that while the trade with the British West 
Indies was permitted, the United States would not allow 
the carrying of any molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, or cotton 
in American vessels to any other part of the world than to 
the United States. This would have stopped a profitable 

1 In fact Monroe, in another part of the same letter, avows : " The doc- 
trine of Great Britain in every decision is the same. . . . Every departure 
from it is claimed as a relaxation of the principle, gratuitously conceded by 
Great Britain." 

2 Mr. Jay seems to have been under some misapprehension in this matter, 
for upon his return he wrote to the Secretary of State : " The treaty does 
prohibit re-exportation from the United States of West India commodities in 
neutral vessels ; . . . but Ave may carry tbem direct from French and other 
West India islands to Europe." (Am State Papers, i. 520.) This the treaty 
certainly did not admit. 


trade already open to American merchants, who first im- 
ported, and then re-exported to France, the produce of 
the French islands ; the broken voyage being considered to 
purge the origin of the commodities. This article (the 
twelfth) was accordingly rejected by the Senate, and only 
as thus modified was the treaty ratified by both powers. 

The French government had viewed with distrust the 
negotiation between Great Britain and the United States. 
Although assured by Mr. Jay, through the American 
minister at Paris, that the treaty contained an express 
stipulation guarding the existing conventions between 
France and his own country, the Directory had the in- 
solence to demand a copy of the instrument, to which it 
considered itself entitled, although it had not yet been 
communicated to the United States government. When 
the terms finally became known, its indignation passed 
bounds. The principal points to which it took exception 
were two, wherein the United States admitted conditions 
favoring the interests of belligerents relatively to neutrals, 
and against which the chief efforts of the weaker mari- 
time states had been addressed. The first of these was 
the well-settled principle that a neutral ship did not pro- 
tect property belonging to an enemy, laden on board it. 
The United States had always admitted this as valid, 
while trying to introduce, as an innovation, the contrary 
rule In the treaty of 1778 with France, the two coun- 
tries had stipulated that in any future war in which one 
of them should be engaged the belligerent should respect 
his enemy's property, if under the flag of the other party 
to the compact; but the United States did not think that 
this agreement between two nations overturned for all 
others a settled usage. The interests of Great Britain 
indisposed her to accept the proposed change, and the old 
principle was explicitly accepted in the seventeenth article 
of Jay's treaty. The other point objected to by France 
referred to the definitions of contraband of war. This has 


always been, and still is, one of the most difficult prob- 
lems of international law ; for an article may be of the 
first importance in the wars of one age or one country, 
and of slight consequence in another century or a different 
scene. By Jay's treaty the United States allowed that 
naval stores were, and under some circumstances provi- 
sions might be, contraband of war, and, therefore liable 
to seizure. A free trade in these articles was of great 
importance to the Americans ; but they were weak then, as 
in a military sense they, with far less excuse, are now; 
and then, as now, they must submit in questions of doubt- 
ful right. The material interests of United States citi- 
zens, as distinguished from the national self-respect, were 
in part saved by Great Britain undertaking to pay for pro- 
visions when seized as contraband. All these conditions 
bore against the wishes of the French, who regarded the 
Americans as owing an undischarged debt of gratitude to 
them for the scanty, though certainly most important, aid 
extended in the Revolutionary struggle by the monarch 
whom his people had since beheaded ; and from this time 
the arrogance with which the French government had 
treated that of the United States became tinged with 
acrimony. It refused to see the difficulties and weakness 
of the new and still scarcely cemented body of states; or 
that, indirectly, the bargain struck by the latter was upon 
the whole as advantageous to France herself as could be 
expected, when Great Britain had an absolute control 
over the sea and all that floated upon it. To imperious 
rebukes and reproaches succeeded a series of measures, 
outraging neutral and treaty rights, which finally led to 
hostilities between the two countries. 

From the time of Jay's treaty to the peace of Amiens, 
and until the year 1804 in the following war, the relations 
between Great Britain and the United States remained 
on a fairly settled basis. Innumerable vexations, indeed, 
attended neutral commerce at the hands of cruisers who 


were willing on slight grounds to seize a prize, taking 
the chance of the courts deciding in their favor, and the 
delays of prize courts added greatly to the annoyance; but 
upon the whole American trade throve greatly. In June, 
1797, the Secretary of State reported, in reply to a resolu- 
tion of the House, that "captures and losses by British 
cruisers, it is presumed, have not been numerous; for the 
citizens of the United States having, these three years 
past, been accustomed to look to the government for aid 
in prosecuting these claims, it is not to be doubted that, 
generally, these eases have been reported to the Depart- 
ment. '' In 1801 there was an outbreak of lawless seizure 
in the West Indies. 1 The American vessels engaged in 
that trade were small, and, as legal expenses were the 
same for a large as for a small prize, the cost of a contest 
amounted to a sum very disproportionate to the value of 
th-' ship; so the captors hoped, by the well-known delays 
of procedure, to extort a compromise. An abuse of this 
kind, however outrageous, is different in principle from 
the direct action of a government; nor are such cases the 
only ones in which men have been willing to take dis- 
honest advantage of the imperfections, ambiguities, or de- 
lays of the law. 2 The Secretary of State, in transmitting 
a report on the subject to the House of Representatives, 
said, "Neither the communications from our minister at 
Lou. Ion, nor my conversations with the Charge d'Affaircs 
of his Britannic Majesty in the United States, would lead 
to an opinion that any additional orders have lately been 
given by the British government, authorizing the system of 
depredation alluded to." 3 

In fact, at this time Pitt's government seems to have 
considered all trade, which did not go direct to hostile 

1 See letter of Thus. Fitzsimmons, Am State Papers, vol. ii. 347. 

2 The pretexts for these seizures seem usually to have heen the alleged 
contraband character of the cargoes. 

3 Am. State Papers, vol ii. 345. 

VOL. II. — 16 


countries, an advantage to Great Britain, and especially if 
it could be drawn to pass through her own ports. Ac- 
cordingly, in January, 1798, a further relaxation of the 
Rule of 1756 was promulgated, extending to European 
neutrals the concession made in 1791 to the United States. 
British cruisers were now directed not to capture neutral 
ships, bound from the hostile colonies to Europe and 
laden with colonial produce, provided the latter had 
become neutral property and its destination was to their 
own country, or to a port of Great Britain. The final 
clause foreshadowed the policy of the Orders in Council 
of ten years later, towards which Great Britain, under the 
stress of war, was steadily gravitating. The law of self- 
preservation, divined by the instinct of the state, de- 
manded that the United Kingdom should become, for that 
war, the storehouse of the world's commerce. The more 
thriving that commerce, the better for her, if it could be 
concentrated in her own borders. Thus France and the 
whole world should become tributary to a wealth and to a 
power by which, not Great Britain only, but the world 
should be saved. It was a great conception, of slow 
growth and gradual realization; it was disfigured in its 
progress by imperfections, blunders, and crimes ; but it 
was radically sound and in the end victorious, for upon 
Great Britain and upon commerce hung the destinies of 
the world. 

The action of France towards neutral, and especially 
towards American, vessels reflected the instability and ex- 
citement of the successive French governments, the violent 
passions of the time, and the uncertainty necessarily attend- 
ant upon the course of a nation which, having cut adrift 
from fixed principles and precedents, is guided only by 
changing impressions of right and wrong. The decree of 
the 9th of May, 1793, arresting vessels laden with provi- 
sions or carrying enemy's goods, was revoked as regards 
the United States on the 23d of the same month, because 


contrary to the treaty of 1778. On the 28th, five days 
later, the revocation was revoked, and the original order 
established. 1 On the first of July the decision was 
again reversed and the treaty ordered to be observed; not- 
withstanding which the United States minister found it 
impossible to obtain the release of vessels seized contrary 
to its terms, and on the 27th of the month the last deci- 
sion was again repealed. 2 On the 22d of September the 
American minister writes: "I understand it is still in 
contemplation to repeal the decree I complained of, and 
that in the mean time it has not been transmitted to the 
tribunals. In effect, it can do very little harm; because 
the fleets of this country are confined by the enemy, and 
the privateers by a decree of the Convention." 3 Here 
matters rested during the Reign of Terror and until 
November 15, 1794, after the fall of Robespierre, when 
the Directory issued its first edict on the subject ; reiter- 
ating that enemy's goods under the neutral flag would be 
considered liable to seizure, until the powers, enemies of 
France, should declare French property free on board neu- 
tral ships. This made the treatment of cargoes on Ameri- 
can vessels depend, not upon the formal engagements of 
France with the United States, but upon the conduct of 
Great Britain; and it was succeeded, on the 3d of Janu- 
ary. 1795, by a decree of revocation. Enemy's goods 
under neutral flags now remained exempt from capture 
until the 2d of July, 1796 ; when proclamation was issued, 
notifying neutral powers that the ships of the French Re- 
public would be used against their merchant vessels, were it 
for the purpose of confiscation, search or detention, in the 
same manner that the j suffered the English to act in regard 

1 It will be remembered that the closing days of May witnessed the cul- 
mination of the death struggle between the Jacobins and Girondists, and that 
the latter finally fell on the second of June. 

2 Am State Papers, vol. i. pp. 284, 286, 748. 
* Ibid., p. 372. 


to them. Great Britain was thus made supreme arbiter 
of the conduct of France towards neutrals. 

This last step of the French government was directly 
traceable to its dissatisfaction with Jay's treaty, the rati- 
fications of which had been exchanged at London on the 
28th of October, 1795. On the 16th of February, 1796, 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs told Mr. Monroe, the 
American minister, that his government considered the 
alliance between the two countries, formed by the treaty 
of 1778, to be terminated, ipso facto, by Jay's treaty; and 
on the 7th of October he was further informed that the 
minister to the United States had been recalled and would 
not be replaced. Meanwhile President Washington, being 
dissatisfied with Monroe's conduct, had summoned him 
home and sent out Mr. Pinckney as his relief; but the 
Directory, on the 11th of December, refused to receive 
any minister plenipotentiary from the United States until 
the grievances it had alleged were redressed, 1 and on the 
25th of January, 1797, Pinckney was ordered to leave the 
country as an unauthorized foreigner. 

France was now fully embarked on a course of violence 
toward the United States, which arose, not from any 
reasonable cause of discontent given, but from the dispo- 
sition, identical with that shown toward the weaker 
European nations, to compel all countries to follow the 
dictates of the French policy. The utterly loose terms of 
the decree of July 2, 1796, authorized the seizure of any 
neutral vessel by a French captain, if, in his judgment, the 
conduct of Great Britain toward the neutral justified it; 
and left the ultimate fate of the prize to a tribunal gov- 
erned only by its own opinion upon the same subject. 
"You are mistaken," said a French deputy, "if you think 

1 One of these complaints was that the United States now prohibited the 
sale, in her ports, of prizes taken from the British by French cruisers. This 
practice, not accorded by the treaty with France, and which had made an un- 
friendly distinction against Great Britain, was forbidden by Jay's treaty. 


that a privateer sails furnished with instructions from the 
Minister of Marine, who ought to direct their action. The 
instructions are drawn up hy his owners; they indicate to 
the captain what he may seize and what release. They com- 
pile for him his duties under all the rules, under all the 
laws, contradictory or otherwise, from the year 1400 up to 
the law of Niv6se 29, An 6" (Jan. 18, 1798). 1 

In the West Indies the French agents, practically re- 
moved from all control of the home government by the 
British command of the sea, issued on the 27th of Novem- 
ber, 1796, a decree for the capture of Americans bound to, 
or coming from, British ports. They had already, on the 
first of August, directed that all vessels having contraband 
goods on board should be seized and condemned, what- 
ever their destination, and although the accepted law con- 
demned only the contraband articles themselves, not the 
ship nor the rest of the cargo. On the first of the follow- 
ing February the same commissioners ordered the capture 
of all neutrals sailing for the French islands which had 
surrendered to the enemy, and declared them good prize. 
That these acts fairly represented the purpose of the 
Directory may be inferred from the capture of American 
ships in European waters under the decree of July 2, and 
from the fact that the French consuls at Malaga and Cadiz 
interpreted the decree to authorize seizure and condemna- 
tion for the single circumstance of being destined for a 
British port. 2 Over three hundred American vessels were 
thus seized, and most of them condemned. Envoys sent 
from the United States to treat concerning these matters 
said, in October, 1797, that France had violently taken 
from America over fifteen million dollars. 3 "At no 
period of the war," wrote they again, February 7, 1798, 
"has Britain undertaken to exercise such a power. At 

1 Speech of M. Dentzcl in the Conseil des Anciens. Moniteur, An 7, 

2 Am. State Papers, vol. ii p. 28. > Ibid, vol. ii. p. 163. 


no period has she asserted such a right. " 1 " Was there 
ever anything," said the deputy before quoted, "like the 
injustice of the condemnations in the Antilles ? " 

These irregular and arbitrary proceedings are chiefly 
significant as showing the lack of any fixed principles of 
action on the part of the French government and its 
agents; and they were closely connected with similar 
courses towards neutral vessels in French ports. At the 
outbreak of hostilities in 1793, one hundred and three 
American ships were embargoed at Bordeaux and detained 
more than a year, without any reason given ; nor had the 
owners been indemnified in 1796. 2 Cargoes were forcibly 
taken from vessels and payment either refused or offered 
in kind, and so delayed that in the West Indies alone the 
American losses were calculated at two million dollars. 
Besides these acts, which had the character of spoliations, 
the contracts and other financial obligations of the French 
government and its agents with citizens of the United 
States remained undischarged. The irritation between 
the two governments, and on the part of American mer- 
chants, continued to increase rapidly. The decree of 
July 2, the essence of which was the formal repudiation 
of a clause of the treaty of 1778, at the time when alone 
it became applicable, remained in force; and was ren- 
dered more obnoxious by a further order, of March 2, 1797, 
making more stringent the proofs of neutrality to be ad- 
duced before French tribunals and requiring papers which 
had long been disused. 

At this time the astonishing successes of Bonaparte's 
Italian campaigns were approaching their triumphant 
conclusion. The battle of Rivoli had been fought on the 
14th of January, 1797, 3 Mantua capitulated on the 2d of 

1 Letter to Talleyrand, Am. State Papers, vol. ii. p. 178. 

2 Ibid., vol. i. pp. 740, 748. 

3 The day after the news of Rivoli was received, Mr. Pinckney, who had 
remained in Paris, though unrecognized, was curtly directed to leave France. 


February, and the Pope had been compelled to sue for 
peace. To Austria there remained only the hope of con- 
testing the approach to her German dominions. The 
confidence of the Directors knew no bounds, and they now 
began to formulate the policy toward British commerce 
which Napoleon inherited from them. The design was 
formed of forcing the United States to recede from the 
obnoxious conventions of Jay's treaty; and the govern- 
ment of Holland, then entirely dependent upon that of 
France, was pressed to demand that Dutch property on 
board American vessels should be protected against Brit- 
ish seizure, and to suggest the concurrence of the three 
republics against Great Britain. 1 The Dutch accordingly 
represented "that, when circumstances oblige our com- 
merce to confide its interests to the neutral flag of Ameri- 
can vessels, it has a just right to insist that that flag be 
protected with energy ; " 2 in other words, that, when the 
British control of the sea forced the Dutch ships from it, 
Dutch trade should be carried on under the American flag, 
and that the United States should fight to prevent the 
seizure of the Dutch property, although it admitted that 
the traditional law of nations would not justify it in so 
doing. On the 6th of May, 1797, Spain also, doubtless 
under the dictation of France, made the same demand. 2 
Similar representations were made to the other neutral 
country, Denmark. Here is seen the fore-runner of Napo- 
leon's contention that, as against Great Britain's control 
of the sea, no state had a right to be neutral. Soon 
afterward the idea was carried farther. Denmark was re- 
ed to close the mouth of the Elbe to British com- 
merce. "The French," wrote our minister to London on 
the 12th of March, 1797, "assign our treaty with England 
as the cause of their maritime conduct toward us, but 
they have recently demanded of Hamburg and Bremen to 
suspend all commerce with England. These have not 

1 Am State Tapers, vol. ii. p. 13. 2 Ibid., p. 14. 


complied, and the French minister has been recalled from 
Hamburg. The same demand has been made at Copen- 
hagen, and the refusal has produced a sharp diplomatic 
controversy. These powers have made no late treaty with 
England. " 1 

Hostilities with Austria had ceased by the preliminaries 
of Leoben, April 18, followed, after long negotiations, by 
the treaty of Campo Formio, October 17, 1797. Of the 
coalition against France, Great Britain alone remained 
upright and defiant. She had in 1797, after Austria had 
yielded, offered to negotiate ; but the terms demanded 
were such that she refused to accept them, and her envoy 
was ordered out of France as peremptorily as Mr. Pinck- 
ney had been a few months before. The Directory thought 
that the time was now come when she could be brought to 
unconditional surrender, and the weapon by which her 
commerce should be annihilated was already forged to its 
hand. On the 31st of October, 1796 (Brumaire 10, An 
5), 2 a law had been passed by the Legislature forbidding 
entirely the admission of any British manufactured goods, 
directing that all persons who already had such in posses- 
sion should declare them within three days, and that they 
should be at once packed and stored for re-exportation. 
In order to insure the execution of the statute, domiciliary 
visits were authorized everywhere within three leagues of 
the frontiers or sea-board, and throughout France the 
dwellings of all tradesmen were also open to search. 
Laws of similar purpose had been passed early in the 
war; 3 but they either had been found insufficient or were 
no longer applicable to the changed conditions of affairs. 
"Now that," to use the words of a deputy, "the flags of 
the Republic or those of its allies float over the sea from 
Embden to Trieste, and almost all the ports of the Euro- 

1 American State Papers, vol. ii. p. 14. 

2 Moniteur, An v. pp. 164, 1C7. 

3 March 1, and October 8, 1793. Ibid. 


pean seas are closed to England, we must stop the volun- 
tary subsidies which are paid her by the consumers of 
English merchandise." 1 With Belgium annexed, with 
Spain and Holland vassals rather than allies, with the 
greater part of Italy in military occupation, it seemed 
possible to repel the entrance points of British goods to 
the Continent far from the French frontier, and by strict 
watchfulness to close the latter against such as worked 
their way to it. 

The expectation, however, was deceived; the superior 
quality and abundance of British manufactures created a 
demand which evaded all watchfulness and enlisted all 
classes against the officials. The Directory therefore de- 
termined, toward the end of 1797, to put the law into 
force with all severity and to introduce another and final 
rigor into its maritime prize code. On the 4th of January, 
1798, a message was sent to the council of Five Hundred, 
announcing that "on that very day the municipal admin- 
istrators, the justices of the peace, the commissaries of the 
Directory, and the superintendents of customs, are pro- 
ceeding in all the chief places of the departments, in all 
the ports, and in all the principal communes, to seize all 
English merchandise now in France in contravention of 
the law of Brumahe 10, An 5. Such is the first act by 
which, now that peace is given to the Continent, the war 
declared long since against England is about to assume 
the real character that belongs to it." But more was 
needed. Neutral vessels were in the habit of entering 
British ports, shipping British goods, and carrying on 
British trade; they were even known, when opportunity 
offered, to introduce articles of British manufacture, 
directly or indirectly, into France. By so doing they 
aided Great Britain and actually took part in the war. 
"The Directory, therefore, thinks it urgent and necessary 
to pass a law declaring that the character of vessels, rela- 

1 Speech of Lecouteulx ; Moniteur, An v. p. 176. 


tive to their quality of neutral or enemy, shall be deter- 
mined by their cargo; ... in consequence, that every 
vessel found at sea, having on board English merchandise 
as her cargo, in whole or in part, shall be declared lawful 
prize, whosoever shall be the proprietor of this merchan- 
dise, which shall be reputed contraband for this cause alone, 
that it comes from England or her possessions." This 
decree was adopted without discussion, in the very terms of 
the Directory's message, on the 18th of January, 1798. 
From that time forward, to use the expression of a French 
deputy, speaking a year later on the proposed repeal of 
the law, "if a handkerchief of English origin is found on 
board a neutral ship, both the rest of the cargo and the 
ship itself are subject to condemnation." It is, perhaps, 
well to point out that this differed from the Rule of 1756, 
by forbidding a trade which at all times had been open to 
neutrals, in peace as in war. It differed from the old rule 
condemning enemy's property found in neutral bottoms, 
by condemning also neutral property of hostile origin, 
together with the whole cargo and the ship, as contami- 
nated by the presence of any British goods. 

Nevertheless, British commerce continued to thrive, 
and was rather benefited than injured by the new law. 
What the indomitable purpose, unlimited power, and 
extraordinary mental and physical activity of Napoleon 
could only partially accomplish, proved to be wholly 
beyond the weak arm of the Directory. When war first 
shut the ports of France to Great Britain, her trade 
thither passed through the Netherlands and Holland. 
When the Netherlands were overrun, Amsterdam monop- 
olized the traffic. With the fall of Holland, it passed 
away to Bremen and Hamburg. The latter port, being 
farther east and more remote from the French armies, 
naturally drew the greater part and became the real heir 
of Amsterdam. 1 It was the emporium of Northern Ger- 

1 Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, voL iv. 463. ' 


many, through which poured the colonial produce of the 
world and the manufactures of the British Islands, and 
from which they were distributed over the Continent. The 
enormous subsidies paid by the United Kingdom to Ger- 
many found their way back, in part at least, by the in- 
creased purchasing power of the belligerent countries, 1 
which consumed the manufactures of Great Britain and 
the coffee and sugar which had passed through her ports 
and paid toll to her revenues. 2 The shipping clearing for 
Hamburg from British ports, which was naught in 1793, 
rose to fifty-three thousand tons in 1795 ; and in 1798, the 
year during which the new French law operated, increased 
to seventy -four thousand. But, while Hamburg was the 
great centre, all the northern German ports shared the 
same prosperity. After Prussia retired from the war 
against France, in April, 1795, a neutral North German 
territory was established, behind a line agreed upon 
between the two countries. The total tonnage entering 
the ports of this region increased from one hundred and 
twenty thousand in 1792 to two hundred and six thousand 
in 1795 ; and in 1798 reached three hundred and three 
thousand. The value of merchandise imported rose from 
£2.200,000 in 1792, to £8,300,000 in 1795, £11,000,000 
in 1798, and £13,500,000 in 1800. 8 . 

A similar elasticity was shown by British trade through- 
out the world. Only in the Mediterranean was there a 
marked decrease both of exports and imports, — -a loss 
partly filled by the enterprise of American merchants; 4 
but only partly, for the Barbary pirates seconded the 
sweeping French decrees in excluding neutrals from that 
sea. But it was in the West Indies, together with the 

1 Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. 413, note. 

2 Of the imports into Germany, three fifths were foreign merchandise re- 
exported from Great Britain. 

3 These figures are all taken from Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, 
vol. iv. 

4 See Am. State Tapers, vol. x. p. 487. 


German ports, that the commercial activity of Great 
Britain found its greatest resources; and in the steady 
support contributed by that region to her financial stabil- 
ity is to be found the justification of the much derided 
policy of Pitt in capturing sugar islands. Alike as valu- 
able pieces of property, as possessions to be exchanged 
when framing a treaty, and as bases for cruisers, which not 
merely seized upon British shipping but disturbed the 
commercial development of the whole region, each hos- 
tile island should at once have been seized by Great 
Britain. In a contest between equal navies for the con- 
trol of the sea, to waste military effort upon the capture 
of small islands, as the French did in 1778, is a preposter- 
ous misdirection of effort ; but when one navy is overwhelm- 
ingly preponderant, as the British was after 1794, when the 
enemy confines himself to commerce-destroying by crowds 
of small privateers, then the true military policy is to 
stamp out the nests where they swarm. If, by so doing, 
control is also gained of a rich commercial region, as the 
Caribbean Sea then was, the action is doubly justified. 
The produce of the West Indies, as of the East, figured 
doubly in the returns of British commerce, — as imports, 
and as re-exported to the Continent. 1 Each captured 

1 The importance of the "West India region to the commercial system of 
Great Britain in the last decade of the 18th century will be seen from the 
following table, showing the distribution per cent of British trade in 1792 

and 1800: — 

Imports from, Exports to, 

1792. 1800. 1792. 1800. 

British West Indies 20 28 11 10 

United States 5 7 17 15 

Russia 9 8 3 2 

Germany and Prussia 5 12 9 31 

France, Belgium, and Holland . . 8 4 15 12 

Mediterranean 7 2 6 2 

Spain and Portugal 9 5 6 3 

Ireland 13 7 9 9 

Asia (not Levant) 14 16 10 7 

Miscellaneous 10 11 14 9 

100 100 100 100 

The significance of these figures lies not only in the amounts set down 
directly to the West Indies, but also in the great increase of exports to Ger- 


island contributed to swell the revenues by which the war 
was maintained. 1 The disappearance of the merchant 
fleets of France, Spain, and Holland, the ruin of San 
Domingo, and the general disorganization of such French 
islands as were not taken, threw the greater part of the 
production of tropical articles into British hands; and the 
practice of the day, which confined its transport to British 
ships, helped to support the shipping interest also in the 
strain brought upon it by the war. The Americans alone 
could compete in the continental market as carriers of 
such produce. Debarred from going with it direct to 
Europe by the Rule of 1756, the rise in price, due to the 
diminished production and decrease of transport just men- 
tioned, allowed them to take the sugar and coffee of the 
colonies at war with England to American ports, reship it 
to the Continent, and yet make a good profit on the trans- 
action. As the British colonists were in full possession 
of the home market, and their produce commanded high 
prices, the outcry which caused so much trouble ten years 
later was not now raised. On the contrary, their pros- 
perous condition facilitated the British orders of January, 
1798, exempting from capture Danes, Swedes, and other 
neutral ships, when carrying coffee and sugar of hostile 
origin to their own country, or to England. 

It was against this great system of trade that the law of 
Xivuse 29 was launched. British manufactured goods, 
rather than British gold and silver, bought and paid for 
the produce of the East and West Indies, for that of the 
United States and of the Levant. The Continent consumed 
the manufactures of Great Britain, the sugar and coffee of 
her colonies, and obtained through British merchants the 
spices and wares of the East; tor all which it for the most 

many, and the high rate maintained to France, BeJgium, and Holland, with 
winch war existed. Of these exports 25 per cent in 1792, and 43 per cent 
in 1*00, were foreign merchandise, chiefly West Indian — re-exported. 
1 In 1800 the captured islands sent 9 per cent of the British imports. 


part paid back specie. The United States took specie 
from France herself for the colonial produce carried there 
in its vessels, and with it paid Great Britain for her 
manufactures. France herself received British goods 
through continental channels, and paid hard cash for 
them. The money thus coming to London had flowed 
back as subsidies to the armies of the coalitions. Now, 
thanks to Bonaparte, Great Britain stood alone. The 
French navy was powerless to contend with her fleets ; 
but, by actual possession or by treaty, the Directory had 
excluded her ships from a great part of the Continent. 
Nevertheless, British goods abounded in all parts through 
the complicity of neutral carriers. If these could be 
stopped, the market for British manufactures would be 
closed; therefore against them were launched the cruisers 
of France, with the authority of the decree to capture any 
one of them found with a bale or box of British origin on 
board. The result was curious. 

After the lapse of a year, on the 13th of January, 1799, 
the Directory addressed a message to the lower house of 
the Legislature 1 on the subject of maritime prizes, in which 
occurred the celebrated avowal, already quoted, that not a 
single merchant ship under French colors sailed the deep 
seas. But this was not all. The irregularities and out- 
rages of privateers had so terrified neutrals that there 
had been an immense diminution in the entries of neutral 
tonnage, although Great Britain had rather relaxed than 
increased the severe rules she had adopted early in the 
war. In consequence of the smaller importations from 
abroad, there were necessarily smaller sales of French 
goods, and the decrease of neutral carriers impeded the 
export of agricultural produce and manufactures, as well 
as the importation of raw materials essential to the latter. 
The Directory attributed the evil to an existing ordinance, 
which left the final determination of prize cases in the 

1 Moniteur, An vii pp 478, 482. 


hands of the courts, instead of attributing it to the execu- 
tive. It argued that if there were a right of final appeal 
to the latter, it could check the arbitrary proceedings of 
the cruisers and the erroneous decisions of the judges. 
If, as was represented by the American consulate at 
Paris, the courts of first instance were chiefly composed 
of merchants in the sea-ports, most of whom were, 
directly or indirectly, interested in fitting out privateers, 1 
there was certainly need of some change in the existing 
legislation. In the Conseil des Anciens, however, a 
different view prevailed. On the 17th of January, 1799, 
a debate began in that body, on a resolution fixing the 
date when the law of January 18, 1798, became operative. 2 
The consequent discussion took a wide range over the 
policy and results of the enactment, as shown by the year 
it had been in force. The disastrous commercial condition 
of France was freely admitted on all sides ; but in several 
powerful speeches it was attributed directly and convinc- 
ingly to the working of the law itself. "Neutrals re- 
pelled from our ports ; our agricultural products without 
any outlet abroad ; our industry and commerce annihilated ; 
our colonies helpless ; our shipping ways deserted ; a bal- 
ance of twenty thousand sailors in English prisons; our 
ships of war without seamen, — such are the political effects 
of the law which is ruining, crushing us." 3 

In less impassioned words, other deputies showed the 
unfairness of the law. If, on the land frontier, a wagon 
stopped carrying a bale of British goods, the bale was 
confiscated, but the rest of the load escaped. If in a 
ship a like bale was found, not only it, but all the rest 
of the cargo and the ship itself were condemned. Even 
in the fiercest heat of the Revolution and the utmost dan- 
ger to the country, it had never been attempted, as now, 

1 Am State Papers, vol ii. p. 8 

2 Moniteur, An vii. p 502. 

* Ibid , p. 716 ; Couzard's speech. 


to forbid neutrals carrying British goods to their own 
country. 1 The step could not be justified under the plea 
of reprisals; for "if the English have seized French 
goods on these same neutrals, they have not confiscated 
the rest of the cargo. These are, therefore, not reprisals, 
but new proceedings on our part, which neutrals could 
neither expect nor guard against." 2 A neutral ship came 
within reach of the French coast only at her extreme 
peril. A small package of British goods would justify 
her capture by a French privateer, whatever her destina- 
tion; nay, even if she were bringing to France articles 
urgently needed, and intended to take away French prod- 
uce in exchange for them. Neutrals, allies, even French 
vessels themselves, carrying on the little trade with 
neighboring states, were preyed on by French corsairs. 
This condition reacted on the enterprise of the cruisers 
themselves. It was much safer, and quite as profitable, 
to keep close to the home coast and board passing vessels. 
The merest trifle, smuggled on board by one of the crew, 
or shipped unknown to the master and owner, made them 
good prize. Owing to this caution, the captures brought 
into French home ports had dropped, from six hundred 
and sixty-two in the previous year, to four hundred and 
fifty-two, notwithstanding the vast extension of the field 
for seizures. 3 

The loss of prizes, however, was far from being the 
worst effect of the law. Neutrals being repelled, friendly 
and French shipping scared away, commerce had been 
seriously crippled for want of carriage. In the year 

1 Moniteur, An vii. p. 555 ; Dentzel's speech. 

2 Ibid. ; Lenglet's speech. 

3 Ibid., pp. 582, 583. The figures are chiefly taken from the speech of 
M. Arnould. A person of the same name, who was Chef du Bureau du 
Commerce, published in 1797 a book called " Systeme Maritime et Politique 
des Europeens," containing much detailed information about French mari- 
time affairs, and displaying bitter hatred of England. If the deputy himself 
was not the author, he doubtless had access to the best official intelligence. 


before the enactment the coasting trade employed 895,000 
tons; of which 120,000 were neutrals, by whom goods were 
transported from one sea frontier of France to another, as 
from the Bay of Biscay to the French Mediterranean coast. 
In the year following, the total fell to 746,000; but the 
neutrals dropped to 38,000. In the foreign trade 800,000 
tons were employed in the year before the law, of which 
623,000 were neutral. In the year following, the total 
fell to 688,000, of which 468,000 were neutrals. There 
thus resulted a total loss of 322,000 tons in a commerce 
of only 1,750,000. To this the speaker added a striking 
comparison: "In the same year in which we lost 322,000 
tons by the operation of the law, we took four hundred 
and fifty-two prizes. Assuming — what is not the case — 
that these were all English, and that they averaged two 
hundred tons burden — an excessive allowance — we have 
taken from our enemy 90,400 tons against 322,000 we 
have lost." "All the sufferings of ourselves and allies 
might be borne, if good resulted to ourselves or harm to 
England; but it has not." "English ships are insured 
at a premium of five per cent, while neutrals bound to 
France have to pay twenty to thirty per cent. Neutrals 
themselves seek English convoy. 1 French merchants 
would gladly charter neutral ships to carry to San 
Domingo the produce that is overflowing our storehouses, 
and to bring back the coffee and sugar for which we are 
paying Buch extravagant rates; but they will not come 
near as. So, instead of paying a moderate price with 
French goods, we are paying exorbitant rates in specie, 
which goes straight to England, our most cruel foe." 2 
The policy of the law was condemned by the results. In 
support of its justice, it was alleged that there were at 

1 In consequence of the law of Jan. 18, 1708, the British government 
appointed a ship-of-the-line and two frigates to convoy a fleet of American 

- t<> their own coast. — Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. iv. 
J). 440. 

2 Monitenr, An vii. p. 564; Cornet's speech. 
voi,. n. — 17 


sea only French and British ships, whence it followed that 
all which were not French could be seized, — a contention 
which derives its sole present interest from being the 
same as that put forth by Napoleon ten years later. It 
shows again — what can scarcely be too often asserted in 
the interests of truth — that the emperor was but the full 
and perfect incarnation of the spirit that animated the 
Convention and the Directory. 

The Government of the United States had not yet, in 
1798, passed into the hands of men with an undue 
" passion for peace. " Upon the unceremonious dismissal 
of Mr. Pinckney, not for personal objections but as reject- 
ing any minister from America, the President had called 
a special meeting of Congress in May, 1797, and recom- 
mended an increase of the naval establishment. When 
the news of the law of January 18, 1798, reached the 
United States, Congress was in session. On the 28th of 
May an act was approved, authorizing the capture of any 
French armed vessel which shall, upon the coast of the 
United States, have committed any depredation upon her 
commerce. l On the 7th of July another act abrogated all 
existing treaties between the two countries ; 2 and on the 
9th was decreed the seizure of French armed vessels any- 
where on the high seas, not only by public armed ships, 
but by privateers, which the President was authorized to 
commission. 3 Thereupon followed a period of maritime 
hostilities, though without a formal declaration of war, 
which lasted three years; the first prize being taken from 
the French in June, 1798, and peace being restored by a 
treaty, signed in Paris September 30, 1800, and ratified 
the following February. The small force of the United 
States was principally occupied in the West Indies, pro- 
tecting their trade, — both by the patrol system directed 
against the enemy's cruisers, and by convoying bodies of 

1 Annals of Congress, 1798, p. 3733. 

2 Ibid., p 3754. s Ibid. 


merchantmen to and from the islands. As the condition 
of the French navy did not allow keeping large fleets afloat, 
the ships of the United States, though generally small, 
were able to hold their ground, capture many of the 
enemy, and preserve their own commerce from molestation. 
The mercantile shipping of France, however, had already 
been so entirely destroyed by Great Britain, that she 
suffered far more from the cessation of the carrying trade, 
which Americans had maintained for her, than from the 
attacks of the American navy. 

The year 1798, which opened with the unlucky law of 
January 18, was in all respects unfortunate for France. 
In May Bonaparte sailed for Egypt, the country thus 
parting with its ablest general, with thirty-two thousand 
of its best troops, and its only available fleet, of thirteen 
sail-of-the-line, which the government with the utmost 
difficulty had been able to equip. On the first of August 
Nelson destroyed the fleet in the Battle of the Nile; and 
the British navy, forced to leave the Mediterranean in 
1796, again asserted its preponderance throughout the 
whole of that sea, opposing an effectual barrier to the 
return of the army in Egypt. The entire face of affairs 
changed, not only in the East but in Europe. The Porte, 
at first hesitating, declared openly against France. A 
second coalition was formed between Great Britain, Aus- 
tria, and Russia, to which Naples acceded; and the armies 
of the latter entered upon their campaign in November. 
They were, indeed, quickly overthrown; but the very 
march of the French troops against them left the armies 
in northern Italy hopelessly inferior to their opponents. 
The year 1799 was full of reverses. In Germany and in 
Italy the French were steadily driven back; in Switzer- 
land only did they, under Massena, hold their ground. 
The British indeed were repelled in their attack upon 
Holland, but they carried away with them the Dutch navy. 
A EtuMo-Turkish fleet, entering the Mediterranean, retook 


the Ionian Islands from the French; and Admiral Bruix 
escaped from Brest only to find it impossible to achieve 
any substantial results in the face of the British superior- 
ity on the sea. In the midst of this confusion and disaster, 
and amid the commercial and internal distress caused by 
the maritime legislation, Bonaparte returned. Landing 
on the 9th of October, he on the 9th of November over- 
threw the Directory. Preparations for war were at once 
begun, and the successes of the first consul in Italy and 
of Moreau in Germany, in 1800, combined with the defec- 
tion of the czar from the coalition, restored peace to the 
Continent and internal quiet to France. 

Upon this followed the renewal of the Armed Neutrality 
of the Baltic powers. Great Britain found herself again 
without an ally, face to face with France, now supported 
by the naval combination of the northern states. Still 
she stood resolute, abating not a jot of her asserted mari- 
time rights. As before, the allies demanded that the 
neutral flag should cover the enemy's property that floated 
under it, and that the term " contraband of war " should 
apply only to articles strictly and solely applicable to 
warlike purposes, which, they claimed, naval stores and 
provisions were not. They proposed also to deprive 
Great Britain of the belligerent right of search, by send- 
ing ships of war with the merchant ships, and requiring 
that the assertion of the naval captain should be received 
as establishing the lawful character of the two or three 
hundred cargoes under his convoy. "The question," said 
Pitt, " is whether we are to permit the navy of our en^my 
to be recruited and supplied, — whether we are to suffer 
blockaded ports to be furnished with warlike stores and 
provisions, — whether we are to suffer neutral nations, by 
hoisting a flag upon a sloop or a fishing boat, to convey 
the treasures of South America to the harbors of Spain, 
or the naval stores of the Baltic to Brest and Toulon. I 
would ask, too, has there ever been a period, since we 


have been a naval country, in which we have acted upon 
this principle?" 1 and he alleged not only the unbroken 
practice of Great Britain, but her old treaties with the 
allied states, and especially the convention with Russia 
in 1793. So far as precedent and tradition went, Eng- 
land's case was unimpeachable. She was called upon to 
surrender, not a new pretension, but an old right impor- 
tant to her military position. "I have no hesitation," 
said Fox, Pitt's great opponent, "in saying that, as a 
general proposition, 'free bottoms do not make free 
goods ; ' and that, as an axiom, it is supported neither by 
the law of nations nor by common-sense. " 2 

At this time the British navy was superior to the com- 
bined forces of all Europe. A fleet, of which Nelson was 
the animating spirit though not the nominal head, entered 
the Baltic. Denmark was struck down on the 2d of April, 
1801; and this blow, coinciding with the murder of the 
Czar Paul, dissolved a coalition more menacing in appear- 
ance than in reality. The young man who succeeded to 
the Russian throne met with dignity the imposing attitude 
of Nelson, now left in chief command; but he had not in- 
herited his father's fantastic ambitions, and the material 
interests of Russia in that day pointed to peace with 
Great Britain. The treaty, signed June 5, 1801, 3 per- 
mitted the neutral to trade from port to port on the coast 
of a nation at war; but renounced, on the part of Russia, 
the claim that the neutral flag covered the enemy's goods. 
On the other hand Great Britain admitted that property 
of a belligerent, sold bond fide to a neutral, became 
neutral in character and as such not liable to seizure; but 
from the operation of this admission obtained the special 
ption of produce from the hostile colonies. 4 This, 
Russia conceded, could not be carried directly from the 
colony to the mother country, even though it had become 

1 Speech of Ffbruary 2, 1801. 2 Speech of March 25, 1801. 

3 Annual Register, 1801 ; State Tapers, p. 212. * Ibid., p. 217. 


neutral property by a real sale ; and similarly the direct 
trade from the mother country to the colony was re- 
nounced. Great Britain thus obtained an explicit ac- 
knowledgment of the Rule of 1756 from the most 
formidable of the maritime powers, and strengthened her 
hands for the approaching dispute with the United States. 
In return, she abandoned the claim, far more injurious to 
Russia, to seize naval stores as contraband of war. Four 
months later, hostilities between Great Britain and France 
also ceased. 

The maritime commercial interests, both of belligerents 
and neutrals, received convincing and conspicuous illus- 
tration from this, the first of the two sea wars growing 
out of the French Revolution. It was the interest of the 
neutrals to step in and take up the trade necessarily aban- 
doned, to a greater or less degree, by the belligerents ; and 
it was also useful to both parties to the war that they 
should do so. But it was very much less to the advan- 
tage of the more purely maritime state than it was to its 
antagonist ; for not only did she need help less, but such 
temporary changes in the course of trade tend to become 
permanent. The immediate gain may become a final and 
irretrievable loss. Hence Great Britain is seen to yield 
readily the restrictions of the Navigation Act, wherever it 
is clearly advisable to avail herself of neutral seamen or 
neutral carriers ; but the concession goes no further than 
immediately necessary, and is always expressly guarded as 
temporary. The relaxation is a purely warlike measure, 
and she is perfectly consistent in refusing to allow it to 
her enemies. Every slackening of the Navigation Act was 
a violation in principle of the Rule of 1756, l which she 
was quite content to have her enemy imitate; as the big 
boy at school offers the small one the opportunity of 

1 The principle of the Rule of 1756, it will be remembered, was that 
the neutral had no right to carry on, for a belligerent, a trade from which the 
latter excluded him in peace. 


returning an injury in kind. France might employ 
neutrals contrary to what Great Britain claimed as the 
Law of nations, as the latter herself did; but there was the 
difference that Great Britain could put a stop to the 
operations favorable to her opponent, while France could 
only partially impede those that advantaged hers. It was, 
therefore, clearly the policy of the British to yield nothing 
to neutrals except when they could not avoid it, and then 
explicitly to assert the principle, while conceding a re- 
laxation; they thus kept control over the neutral trade, 
and impeded operations that both helped their enemy 
and might also supplant their own commerce. In the 
latter part of the war, as the purpose of France to cripple 
their trade took shape, and the exclusion of British goods 
from the Continent became an evident and avowed inten- 
tion, the ministry strengthened itself with the reflection 
that the measure was impracticable so long as neutral 
bottoms abounded ; but a few months later the denial of 
intercourse between hostile nations and their colonies by 
neutral intermediaries was inserted in the Russian treaty. 
The intention to use neutrals to the utmost extent desir- 
able for British interests thus coincided with the deter- 
mination to stop a traffic esteemed contrary to them. 
The permission to neutrals, by the orders of January, 
. to carry the produce of French and Dutch colonics 
to (J rent Britain, when they were threatened with seizure 
if they sailed with the same for France or Holland, illus- 
trates both motives of action; while it betrays the gradual 
shaping of the policy — which grew up over against 
Bonaparte's Continental System — of forcing neutrals 
to mike England the storehouse and toll-gate of the 
world's commerce. Superficially, Great Britain seems 
rather to relax toward neutrals between 1793 and 1801 ; 
but the appearance is only superficial. The tendencies 
that issued in the ever famous Orders in Council of 1807 
were alive and working in 1798. 


The question for British statesmen to determine, there- 
fore, was how far to acquiesce in the expansion of 
neutral trade, and where to draw their line, — always a 
difficult task, dependent upon many considerations and 
liable to result in inconsistencies, real or apparent. For 
France the problem was less intricate. Her commerce 
even before the war was chiefly in foreign hands ; 1 she 
had therefore little cause to fear ultimate injury by con- 
cessions. Immediate loss by neutral competition was 
impossible, for the British navy left her no ships to lose. 
Hence it was her interest to avail herself of neutral car- 
riers to the fullest extent, to recognize that the freer their 
operations the better for her, and that, even could restric- 
tions upon their carrying for her enemy be enforced, the 
result would be to compel the British people to develop 
further their own merchant shipping. Every blow at a 
neutral was really, even though not seemingly, a blow for 
Great Britain. In a general way this was seen clearly 
enough, and a policy favoring neutrals was traditional in 
France, but the blind passions of the Revolution overthrew 
it. To use the vigorous words of a deputy : u The French 
people is the victim of an ill-devised scheme, of a too 
blind trust in commerce-destroying, an auxiliary measure, 
which, to be really useful, should strike only the enemy, 
and not reach the navigation of neutrals and allies, and 
still less paralyze the circulation and export of our 
agriculture and of the national industries. '* 2 Such were 
the results of the direct action of successive French gov- 
ernments, and of the indirect embarrassment caused by 
the delays and inconsistencies of the executive and the 
tribunals. It was thought that neutrals could be coerced 
by French severities into resisting British restrictions, 

1 By a report submitted to the National Convention, July 3, 1793, it ap- 
pears that in the years 1787-1789 two tenths only of French commerce was 
done in French bottoms. In 1792, the last of maritime peace, three tenths 
was carried by French ships. (Moniteur, 1793, p. 804.) 

2 Moniteur, An vii. p. 582 ; Arnould's speech. 


whether countenanced or not by international law. But 
Great Britain, though a hard taskmaster, did not so lay 
her burdens as to lose services which were essential to 
her, nor compel a resistance that under the military con- 
ditions was hopeless; and the series of wild measures, 
which culminated in the law of January 18, 1798, only 
frightened neutrals from French coasts, while leaving 
Great Britain in full control of the sea. The year 1797 
saw the lowest depression of British trade; coincidently 
with the law of January 18 began a development, which, 
at first gradual, soon became rapid, and in which 
the neutrals driven from France bore an increasing 

The short peace of Amiens lasted long enough to in- 
dicate how thoroughly Great Britain, while using neutrals, 
had preserved her own maritime advantages intact. The 
preliminaries were signed October 1, 1801, and war was 
again declared May 16, 1803; but, notwithstanding the 
delays in paying off the ships of war, and the maintenance 
of an unusually large number of seamen in the peace es- 
tablishment, the neutral shipping employed fell from 
twenty-eight per cent, in 1801, to eighteen and a half 
per cent in 1802. 

On the outbreak of the second war Napoleon reverted at 
once to the commercial policy of the Convention and the 
Directory. On the 20th of June, 1803, a decree was 
issued by him directing the confiscation of any produce 
of the British colonies, and of any manufactures of Great 
Britain, introduced into France. Neutral vessels arriving 
were required to present a certificate from the French 
consul at the port of embarkation, certifying that the 
cargo was in no part of British origin. The same measure 
was forcibly carried out in Holland, though nominally an 
independent state; 1 and the occupation of Hanover, while 
dictated also by the general principle of injuring Great 

1 Annual Register, 1804. State Papers, p 286. 


Britain as much as possible, had mainly in view the 
closure of the Elbe and the Weser to British commerce. 
Beyond this, however, Bonaparte being then engrossed 
with the purpose of a direct attack by armed force upon 
the British islands, the indirect hostilities upon their 
commercial prosperity were, for the moment, neglected. 

At the same period Great Britain began to feel that 
neutral rivalry was being carried too far for her own 
welfare, and determined to tighten the reins previously 
slackened. She obtained from Sweden in July, 1803, a 
special concession, allowing her to arrest Swedish vessels 
laden with naval stores for France, and to purchase the 
cargoes at a fair price, — a stipulation identical with that 
about provisions in Jay's treaty; and when the French 
occupation of Hanover excluded her ships from the Elbe 
and Weser, she by a blockade of the rivers shut out 
neutrals also. But it was in the West Indies, so long a 
fruitful source of wealth, that the pressure of neutral 
competition was most heavily felt. The utter ruin of 
San Domingo, and the embarrassments of the other 
islands hostile to Great Britain, had in the former war 
combined with the dangers of the seas to raise the price 
of colonial produce on the Continent, 1 and, consequently, 
to give a great development to the British growth of sugar 
and coffee, the transport of which was confined by law to 
British vessels. The planters, the shipping business, and 
the British merchants dealing with the West Indies, 
together with the various commercial interests and indus- 
tries connected with them, all participated in the benefits 
of this traffic, which supplied over one fourth of the im- 
ports of the kingdom, and took off besides a large amount 

1 The exports of the French West India islands in 1788 amounted to 
$52,000,000, of which $40,000,000 were from San Domingo alone (Traite 
d'Economie Politique et de Commerce des Colonies, par P. F Page. Paris, 
An 9 (1800) p. 15 ) This heing for the time almost wholly lost, the effect 
upon prices can be imagined. 


of manufactures. As production increased, however, and 
prices lowered, the West India business began to feel 
keenly the competition by the produce of the hostile 
islands, exported by American merchants. 

Of the extent of this commerce, and of its dependence 
upon the interruption, by Great Britain, of the ordinary 
channels for French and Dutch trade, a few figures will 
give an idea. In 1792, before the war, the United States 
exported to Europe 1,122,000 pounds of sugar, and 
2,136,742 of coffee; in 1796, 35,000,000 of sugar and 
02,000,000 of coffee; in 1800, 82,000,000 of sugar and 
47,000,000 coffee. In 1803, during the short peace, the 
exports fell to 20,000,000 of sugar and 10,000,000 coffee; 
in 1804, a year of war, they again rose to 74,000,000 
sugar, and 48,000,000 coffee. The precise destination can- 
not be given; but the trade between France and her West 
India Islands, carried on by American ships, amounted 
in 1805 to over 820,000,000, of which only $6,000,000 
were United States produce. In like manner the trade 
with Holland was over 817,000,000, of which $2,000,000 
were of American origin. 

Upon the return of Mr. Pitt to power, in 1804, the 
attempt was made to strengthen the fabric of British com- 
mercial prosperity in the Caribbean, by an extension of the 
m of free ports in the different colonies; by means of 
which, and of their large merchant shipping, the British 
collected in their own hands, by both authorized and 
contraband traffic, so much of the carrying trade of this 
region, extending their operations to the mainland as 
well as throughout the islands. More, however, was 
needed to restrain the operations of the Americans, who, 
by reducing the price of coffee on the Continent, dimin- 
ished the re-exportation from Great Britain, thus affecting 
the revenue of the kingdom and the profits of the planters; 
and who also, by acting as carriers, interfered with the 
accumulations at the free ports and the consequent em- 


ployment of British ships. All the classes interested 
joined in urging the government to find some relief; and 
the clamor was increased by a sense of indignation at the 
tricks by which belligerent rights were believed to be 
evaded by the Americans. The Rule of 1756 did not 
allow the latter to carry their cargoes direct to Europe ; 
but, as the trade winds compelled vessels to run to the 
northward until they reached the westerly winds prevail- 
ing in the higher latitudes, no great delay was involved 
in making an American port, or even in trans-shipping 
the cargo to a vessel bound for Europe. 1 Great Britain 
admitted that articles of hostile origin, but become neu- 
tral property, could be carried freely to the neutral country ; 
and, when so imported, became part of the neutral stock 
and could then be freely re-exported to a hostile state. 

The question of a bond fide importation, like all others 
involving a question of intention, could be determined 
only by the character of the transactions attending it; but 
it was held generally that actual landing and storage, 
with payment of the duties, was sufficient proof, unless 
rebutted by other circumstances. Early in the war fol- 
lowing the peace of Amiens, the British courts awoke to 
the fact that the duties paid on goods so imported were 
simply secured by a bond, and that on re-exportation a 
drawback was given, so that a very small percentage of 
the nominal duties was actually paid. 2 Upon this ground 
a ship was condemned in May, 1805, and great numbers 

1 An American vessel arrived in Marblehead May 29, landed her cargo on 
the 30th and 31st, reloaded, and cleared June 3. (Robinson's Admiralty Re- 
ports, vol. v. p. 396.) 

2 In the case of the brig " Aurora," Mr. Madison, the Secretary of State, 
wrote : " The duties were paid or secured, according to law, in like manner 
as they are required to be secured on a like cargo meant for home consump- 
tion ; when reshipped, the duties were drawn back with a deduction of three 
and a half per cent (on them), as is permitted to imported articles in all 
cases." (Am, State Papers, vol. ii. p, 732.) 

In the case of the American ship " William," captured and sent in, on 
duties to the amount of $1,239 the drawback was $1,211. (Robinson's Ad- 


of American vessels carrying colonial produ.ce to Europe 
were seized and brought into port, as well as others pro- 
ceeding from the United States to the West Indies, with 
cargoes originating in the mother countries; and when, 
in the opinion of the court, the duties had been only nomi- 
nally paid, they were condemned. It is hard to see the 
soundness of an objection to these decisions, based on the 
validity of the payments; but the action of the British 
government is open to severe censure in that no warning 
was given of its purpose no longer to accept, as proof of 
importation, the payment of duties by bond, on which 
drawback was given. Whether it had known the law 
of the United States or not, that law had been open 
to it, and ignorance of its provisions was due not to any 
want of publicity, but to the carelessness of British au- 
thorities. Under the circumstances, the first seizures were 
little short of robbery. 

The reclamations of the United States met with little 
attention during Pitt's brief second administration; but 
after his death, in January, 1806, and the accession to 
office of Grenville and Fox, a more conciliatory attitude 
was shown, — especially by the latter, who became Minis- 
ter of Foreign Affairs. Favorably inclined to the Ameri- 
cans since his opposition to the policy of the Revolutionary 
War, he seemed desirous of conceding their wishes; but 
the pressure from without, joined to opposition within the 
ministry, prevented a frank reversal of the course pursued. 
Instead of the Rule of 1756, Fox obtained an Order in 
Council, dated May 16, 1806, placing the coast of the 
Continent, from Brest to the Elbe, in a state of blockade. 
The blockade, however, was only to be enforced strictly 
between the mouth of the Seine and Ostend. Into ports 
between those two points no neutral would be admitted 

mirnltv "Reports, vol. v. p. 396.) In the celebrated case of the " Essex," with 
which boiran the seizures in 1804, on duties amounting to $5,278, the draw- 
back was $3,080. (Ibid., 405 ) 


on any pretext, and, if attempting to enter, would be con- 
demned ; but on either side, neutral ships could go in and 
out freely, provided they "had not been laden at any 
port belonging to his Majesty's enemies, or, if departing, 
were not destined to any port belonging to his Majesty's 
enemies. " The wording of the order was evidently framed 
to avoid all question as to the origin of cargoes, upon 
which the Rule of 1756 hinged. Not the origin of the 
cargo, but the port of lading, determined the admission 
of the neutral ship to the harbors partially blockaded; 
and if to them, then, a fortiori, to all open ports of the 
enemy. On the other hand, the strict blockade already 
established of the Elbe and Weser was by this order par- 
tially relieved, in the expectation that neutrals would 
carry British manufactures to those northern markets. 
In short, the Order was a compromise, granting something 
both to the mercantile interest and to the Americans, 
though not conceding the full demands of either. It is at 
best doubtful whether the British were able to establish an 
effective blockade over the extent of coast from Brest to 
the Elbe, but the United States and Napoleon had no 
doubts whatever about it; and it thus fell, by a singular 
irony of fate, to the most liberal of the British statesmen, 
the friend of the Americans and of Napoleon, as almost 
the last act of his life, to fire the train which led to the 
Berlin and Milan decrees, to the Orders in Council of 1807, 
and to the war with the United States six years later. 

Fox died on the 13th of September, 1806, and was suc- 
ceeded as Minister of Foreign Affairs by Lord Howick. 
On the 25th of the same month the partial restrictions 
still imposed on the Elbe and the Weser were removed ; 
so that neutral ships, even though from the ports of an 
enemy of Great Britain, were able to enter. In the mean 
time, war had broken out between France and Prussia; the 
battle of Jena was fought October 14, and on the 26th 
Napoleon entered Berlin. The battle of Trafalgar, a 


twelvemonth before, had shattered all his confidence in 
the French navy and destroyed his hopes of directly in- 
vading Great Britain. On the other hand the short cam- 
paign of 1805 had overthrown the Austrian power, and 
that of 1801) had just laid Prussia at his ivvt. The dream 
of reducing Great Britain by the destruction of her com- 
mercial prosperity, long floating in his mind, now became 
tangible, and was formulated into the phrase that he 
iw would conquer the sea by the land. " Two of the great mil- 
itary monarchies were already prostrate. Spain, Holland, 
Italy, and the smaller German states were vassals, more 
or less unwilling, but completely under his control ; 
there seemed no reason to doubt that he could impose his 
will on the Continent and force it to close every port to 
British trade. On the 21st of November, 1806, the em- 
peror issued the famous Berlin Decree ; and then, having 
taken the first in the series of fated steps which led to 
his ruin, he turned to the eastward and plunged with 
his army into the rigors of a Polish winter to fulfil his 

The Warfare against Commerce, 1806-1812. 

The Berlin and Milan Decrees of Napoleon, 1806 and 1807. 

— The British Orders in Council, 1807-1809. — Analysis of 
the Policy of these Measures of the two Belligerents. 

— Outline of Contemporary Leading Events. 

NAPOLEON'S Berlin decree alleged many reasons 
and contained many provisions; but the essential 
underlying idea was to crush the commerce of Great 
Britain by closing the Continent to her products of every 
kind. * The pretext was found in the Order in Council of 
May 16, 1806, issued by the ministry of Grenville and 
Fox, putting the coast of the Continent from Brest to the 
Elbe under blockade. Napoleon asserted that the right to 
blockade applied only to fortified, not to commercial, ports, 
which was not true ; and further, that the united forces of 
Great Britain were unable to maintain so extensive an 
operation, which, if not certainly true, was at least 
plausible. Retaliating an abuse, if it w r ere one, with a 
yet greater excess, the Berlin decree began by declaring 
the British islands blockaded, at a time when the emperor 
could not keep a ship at sea, except as a fugitive from the 
omnipresent fleets of his enemy. From this condition of 
phantom blockade it resulted that all commerce with the 
British Islands was forbidden ; and consequently all mer- 
chandise exported from them, having been unlawfully 
carried, became good prize. Vessels from Great Britain 
could not be admitted into French ports. Further, as the 

1 The text of the Berlin decree can be found among the series beginning 
in American State Papers, vol. iii. p. 262. 


British refused to surrender the old rule, by which the 
goods of individual enemies at sea were liable to capture, 
Napoleon decreed that not only the property of individual 
Englishmen on the Continent was to be seized, but also 
that of individual neutrals, if of British origin. The pre- 
amble ended with a clause defining the duration of the 
edict, by which the emperor burned his ships, laying down 
conditions which Great Britain would never accept until 
at her last gasp. "The present decree shall be con- 
sidered as a fundamental principle of the Empire, until 
England has acknowledged that the law of war is one and 
the same on the land as on the sea; that it cannot be ex- 
tended to private property of whatever kind, nor to the 
person of individuals not in the profession of arms, and 
that the right of blockade must be restricted to fortified 
places, actually invested by sufficient forces." 

Having launched his missile, Napoleon became at once 
engaged in the campaign against Russia. The bloody 
and doubtful battle of Eylau was fought on the 8th of 
February, 1807, and for the next few months the emperor 
was too busily engaged, holding on by his teeth on the 
banks of the Vistula, to superintend the working of his 
decree. 1 Immediately upon its promulgation in Paris, 
the American minister demanded an explanation on 
several points from the Minister of Marine, who replied 
that he did not understand it to make any alterations in 
the laws respecting maritime captures, and that an 
American vessel could not be taken at sea merely on the 
ground that she was bound to, or coming from, a British 
port ; this he inferred from the fact that such vessels were, 
by the seventh article, denied admission to French ports. 2 

1 A curious indication of the dependence of the Continent upon British 
manufactures is afforded by the fact that the French army, during this awful 
winter, was dad and shod with British goods, imported by the French min- 
ister at Hamburg, in face of the Berlin decree. (Bourrienne's Memoirs, 
vol. vii. p. 292.) 

2 Am State Papers, vol. ii. p. 805. 
vol. ir. — 18 


The inference, natural though it was, only showed how 
elastic and slippery the terms of Napoleon's orders could 
be. The whole edict, in fact, remained a dead letter 
until the struggle with Russia was decided. At first, 
British merchants desisted from sending to the Continent; 
but, as advices showed that the decree was inoperative, 
shipments by neutral vessels became as brisk as at any 
time before, and so continued until August or September, 
1807. l The battle of Friedland, resulting in the total 
defeat of the Russian army, was fought on the 14th of 
June; on the 22d an armistice was signed; and on 
the 25th Alexander and Napoleon had their first inter- 
view upon the raft in the Niemen. On the 8th of July 
was concluded the remarkable and, to Europe, threatening 
Treaty of Tilsit. The czar recognized all the new states 
created by the emperor, and ceded to him the maritime 
positions of the Ionian Islands, and the mouths of the 
Cattaro in the Adriatic; in return for which Napoleon 
acquiesced in Russia's taking Finland from Sweden, and 
also, under certain conditions, the European provinces of 
the Turkish Empire as far as the Balkans. A further 
clause, buried in the most profound secrecy, bound Russia 
and France to make common cause in all circumstances; 
to unite their forces by land and sea in any war they 
should have to maintain; to take arms against Great 
Britain, if she would not subscribe to this treaty; and to 
summon, jointly, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, and Austria 
to concur in the projects of Russia and France, — that is 
to say, to shut their ports to England and to declare war 
against her. 2 

At the time the Berlin decree was issued, negotiations 
were proceeding in London, between the United States 
envoys and the British ministry, concerning the several 
matters in dispute between the two countries ; and on the 

1 Cobbett's Pari. Debates, vol. xiii. Appendix, pp. xxxiv-xlv. 

2 Thiers, Consulat et Empire, vol. vii. pp. 666-669. 


31st of December, 1806, a commercial treaty was signed 
by the respective commissioners. The vexed question of 
the trade between the hostile countries and their colonies 
was arranged, by a stipulation that goods imported from 
the colonies to the United States might be re-exported, 
provided, after deducting the drawback, they had paid full 
two per cent duties, ad valorem, to the Treasury; and that 
articles coming from the mother countries might likewise 
be re-shipped to the colonies, provided they remained sub- 
ject to one per cent duty, after recovering the drawback. 
These, as well as other features of the treaty, were not 
acceptable to the United States, and it was not ratified by 
that government. 

Meantime the British ministry had been considering 
the terms of the Berlin decree, and, instead of waiting to 
see how far it would become operative, determined to re- 
tort by a measure of retaliation. On the 7th of January, 
1807, an Order in Council was issued by the Whig min- 
isters, which often returned to plague them in the suc- 
ceeding years, when they, in opposition, were severely 
criticising the better known measures of the following 
November. The January Order, after quoting Napoleon's 
decree, avowed his Majesty's unwillingness to carry to 
extremes his undoubted right of retaliation; and there- 
fore, for the present, went no further than to forbid all 
trade by neutral vessels "from one port to another, both 
of which ports shall belong to, or be in possession of, 
France or her allies, or shall be so far under their control 
as that British vessels may not freely trade thereat." 1 
The direct object of this step was to stop the coastwise 
trade in Europe; its principle was the right of retalia- 
tion; in its effect, it was an extension of the prohibition 
laid by the Rule of 1756. The latter forbade the direct 
trade between hostile colonies and the mother countries; 

1 Letter of Lord Howick to Mr. Monroe, Jan. 10, 1807; Am. State Pa- 
pers, vol. iii. p. 5. 


the order of January, 1807, extended the restriction to trade 
between any two hostile ports. It bore particularly hard 
upon American ships, which were in the habit of going 
from place to place in Europe, either seeking the best 
markets or gathering a cargo. Under it, " American trade 
in the Mediterranean was swept away by seizures and con- 
demnations, and that in other seas threatened with the 
same fate. " 1 

Matters were in this state when Napoleon returned to 
Paris at the end of July, full of his projects against Great 
Britain, and against neutrals as the abettors of her pros- 
perity. His aims were not limited to crushing her by 
commercial oppression; in the not distant future he in- 
tended to seize the navies of Europe and combine them in 
a direct assault upon her maritime power. On the 19th 
of July, while he was still at Dresden, Portugal was 
notified that she must choose between war with France 
or with Great Britain; and on the 31st, from Paris, a 
similar intimation was given to Denmark. 2 To constrain 
the latter, a corps under Bernadotte was collecting on her 
frontiers ; while another, under Junot, was assembling in 
the south of France to invade Portugal. But in both 
countries Napoleon was anticipated by Great Britain. 
The ministry had received certain information 3 of the 
secret articles agreed to at Tilsit, and foresaw the danger 
of allowing the two navies of Denmark and Portugal to 
fall into the hands of the emperor. Early in August 
twenty-five sail-of-the-line entered the Baltic, convoying 
transports with twenty-seven thousand troops ; the island 
on which Copenhagen stands was invested by the ships, 
and the town itself by the army. The Danish government 

i President's Message to Congress, Oct. 27, 1807 ; Am. State Papers, vol. 
iii. p. 5. 

2 Correspondance de Napoleon. 

3 British Declaration of September 25, 1807, — a paper which ably and 
completely vindicates the action of Great Britain; Annual Register, 1807, 
p. 735. 


was then summoned to surrender its fleet into the safe 
keeping of Great Britain, a pledge being offered that it, 
and all other maritime equipment delivered, should be 
held only as a deposit and restored at a general peace. 
The offer being refused, the city was bombarded from the 
2d to the 5th of September, at the expiration of which time 
the terms demanded were yielded, the British took posses- 
sion of eighteen sail-of- the -line besides a number of frig- 
ates, stripped the dock-yards of their stores, and returned 
to England. The transaction has been visited with the most 
severe, yet uncalled-for, condemnation. The British min- 
istry knew the intention of Napoleon to invade Denmark, 
to force her into war, and that the fleet would soon pass 
into his hands, if not snatched away. They avoided the 
mistake made by Pitt, in seizing the Spanish frigates in 
1804 ; for the force sent to Copenhagen was sufficient to 
make opposition hopeless and to justify submission. To 
have receded before the obstinacy of the Danish govern- 
ment would have been utter weakness. 

In Portugal Great Britain had to deal with a friendly 
nation, instead of the hostile prepossessions of Denmark. 
The French corps of invasion, under Junot, entered Spain 
on its way to Portugal on the 17th of October. Under the 
urgent and unsparing orders of Napoleon it made a march 
of extreme suffering with great rapidity, losing most of 
its numbers by the way from privation, exposure, or 
straggling; but when the handful that kept together en- 
tered Lisbon on the 30th of November, it found the Por- 
tuguese fleet gone, and that the court and its treasure 
had departed with it. The British government had for 
som<! time past expected such an attempt by Napoleon, and 
at the critical moment a squadron on the spot determined 
the vacillating regent to withdraw to Brazil. 

Though foiled in his endeavors to seize the fleets, Napo- 
leon had succeeded in formally closing the ports of the 
two countries to the introduction of British goods; while 


the bombardment at Copenhagen had served as a colorable 
pretext for the declaration of hostility against Great 
Britain made by Russia on the 20th of October. The 
mediation proposed by the czar had already been refused 
by the British ministry, unless the articles of the Treaty 
of Tilsit were first communicated to it ; J but those articles 
were not of a character to bear such an exposure. Prus- 
sia, under the compulsion of the two empires, closed her 
ports against Great Britain by a proclamation dated Sep- 
tember 2d ; no navigation nor trade with England or her 
colonies was to be permitted, either in British or in neu- 
tral vessels. 2 Austria also acceded to the Continental Sys- 
tem, and excluded British goods from her borders. 3 In 
Italy, the new kingdom of Etruria showed little zeal in 
enforcing Napoleon's commands to co-operate in his meas- 
ures; the British carried on commerce at Leghorn, as 
freely as at any port in their own country. By the empe- 
ror's orders the viceroy of Italy therefore took possession 
of the city; and at the same time French detachments 
entered also the Papal States, occupied their coasts, and 
drove the British from them. Joseph Bonaparte being 
already king of Naples, the control of Napoleon and the 
exclusion of his enemies were thus extended over both 
coasts of Italy. Turkey being at this time involved, in 
hostilities with Great Britain, the emperor was able to 
assert that "England sees her merchandise repelled by all 
Europe; and her ships, loaded with useless wealth, seek 
in vain, from the Sound to the Hellespont, a port open to 
receive them. " 4 Decrees applying extreme rigor to the 
examination of vessels entering the Elbe and the Weser 
were issued on the 6th of August and 13th of November. 5 

1 Annual Register, 1807. State Papers, p. 771. 

2 Ibid., p. 739. 

3 Lanfrey's Napoleon (French ed.), vol. iv. p. 153. 

4 Corr. de Nap., vol. xv. p. 659. 

5 Annual Register, 1807, p. 777. 


Xapoleon had a special grudge against the two Hanseatic 
cities, Bremen and Hamburg, which had long mocked his 
efforts to prevent the introduction of British merchandise 
to the Continent; for which the commercial aptitudes of 
their merchants, their extensive intelligence abroad, and 
their noble rivers, afforded peculiar facilities. Despite all 
these efforts and the external appearances of universal 
submission, there still occurred wide-spread evasions of 
the emperor's orders, to which allusion must be made 
later. It is necessary, before doing so, to give the con- 
temporary measures of other nations, in order that the 
whole situation, at once of public regulation and private 
disobedience, together with the final results, may come 
distinctly before the reader. 

Great as was the power of Napoleon, it ceased, like that 
of certain wizards, when it reached the water. Enemies 
and neutrals alike bowed to his invincible armies and his 
superb genius when he could reach them by land ; but be- 
yond the water there was one enemy, Great Britain, and 
one neutral, America, whom he could not directly touch. 
The spirit of his course toward England and his initiatory 
steps have been given; it remained now to define his 
action toward the United States. Weak as the latter 
was, feeble to humiliation as had been the course of its 
government hitherto, and although the prepossessions of 
the party in power were undoubtedly strongly against 
Great Britain, the question was one of immense impor- 
tance; but the emperor, who respected nothing but force, 
failed so to realize it. He stood just where the Directory 
stood at the end of 1797, every enemy but Great Britain 
overthrown, but seeing her defiant still and prosperous. 
Napoleon, however, had, what the Directory had not, ex- 
perimental evidence of the results of such restrictions upon 
neutrals as were imposed by the law of January 18, 1798. 
It was possible to ascribe the disastrous effects to France 
of that measure, and its total failure to achieve the object 


intended, to one of two totally distinct causes. Either the 
law had been inadequately enforced, owing to the feeble 
executive efforts of the Directors and the comparatively 
limited extent of their influence, or else it was in its 
nature and essence so contrary to the true interest and 
policy of France that the very limitations imposed by 
defective power had saved her, and the ability to carry it 
further would have ended in utter ruin. Pursued some- 
what further, the question became: Will it be possible, 
not for France only but for all Europe, — for the concur- 
rence of all Europe is necessary to the effectual working 
of the scheme, — to dispense with the neutral carrier 
(whom it is the tendency of the Berlin decree to repel) 
for a length of time sufficient to ruin Great Britain ? Can 
Europe forego external commerce for a longer time than 
Great Britain can spare the European market ? Can the 
intercourse between the continental nations be so facili- 
tated, the accustomed routes of import and export so 
modified, such changes introduced into the habits of 
manufacture and consumption, as will render bearable the 
demands made upon the patience of nations ? If, as the 
Order in Council of January seems to indicate, Great 
Britain resent the attempt to keep neutrals from her ports, 
by retaliatory measures impeding their traffic with the 
Continent, upon whom will these combined French and 
English restrictions fall most heavily ? — upon the state 
having a large body of merchant ships, to which neutrals 
are the natural rivals; or upon the nations whose ship- 
ping is small, and to whom therefore neutrals are useful, 
if not necessary, auxiliaries ? 

In a commercial war, as in any other, the question must 
be faced whether with ten thousand it is possible to meet 
him who is coming with twenty thousand. As a matter of 
fact, while Napoleon was contemplating a measure which 
would most injuriously affect neutrals, already largely 
employed in transporting British goods, the jealousy of 


British merchants and statesmen was keenly excited by 
the growth of this neutral carrying trade, 1 and they were 
casting about for a pretext and a means to cripple it. 
The Berlin decree revived the clamor of these men, who, 
being then in opposition, had condemned the Order of 
January, 1807, for not carrying retaliation far enough, 
and for directing it upon the coasting trade, which could 
only partially be reached, instead of upon the neutral 
carriage of colonial goods, which lay open everywhere to 
the British navy. A change of ministry in the latter part 
of March, 1807, brought this party again into power, after 
an absence from it of fourteen months since the death of 
Pitt. In the mean time, however, the decree had remained 
inoperative, through the absence of Napoleon in Poland, 
the decisions of the Minister of Marine as to its scope, and 
the connivance of the local authorities everywhere in its 
neglect. No further steps therefore had been taken by 
the new British ministry up to the time of the emperor's 
return to Paris. The latter at first only issued some 
additional regulations of a municipal character, to en- 
sure a stricter observance, but he was soon called upon 
to give a momentous decision. The opinion of the Minis- 
ter of Marine, as to the meaning of certain clauses of the 
decree, 2 was submitted to him by the Minister of Justice; 
and he stated that the true original intention was that 
French armed vessels should seize and bring into port 
neutrals having on board any goods of British origin, 
even though at the time neutral property. As to whether 
they should also arrest neutrals for the simple reason that 
they were going to, or coming from, the British Islands, 
his Majesty reserved his decision. This dictum of the 
emperor, which threw to the winds the ruling of the Min- 

1 See, for example, Cobbett's Pari. Debates, vol. viii. pp. 636 and 641- 
644; vol. ix. p. 87, petition of West India planters; p. 100, speech of Mr. 
Hibbert, and p. 684, speech of Mr. George Rose. 

2 See ante, p. 273. 


ister of Marine, was given to the prize courts on the 18th 
of September, 1807, and shortly afterward the latter 
acted upon it in the case of an American ship wrecked 
upon the French coast ; that part of her cargo which was 
of British origin was ordered to be sold for the benefit of 
the state. 1 The effect of Napoleon's pronouncements was 
at once seen in Great Britain. The insurance of neutral 
ships bound to continental ports, especially to those of 
Holland and Hamburg, rose from four guineas in August 
to eight and twelve in October, and some insurers refused 
to take risks even at twenty-five and thirty. In the two 
months of September and October sixty -five permits were 
issued by the Custom House to re-land and store cargoes 
that had actually been shipped for the Continent. 2 The Tory 
ministry now had the pretext it wanted for a far-reaching 
and exhaustive measure of retaliation. 

Napoleon's decisions of September 18 were communi- 
cated to the Congress of the United States on December 
18 by the President; who at the same time transmitted a 
proclamation from the king of Great Britain, dated Octo- 
ber 16, directing the impressment of British seamen found 
serving on board any foreign merchant ship. 3 In view of 
the dangers to which American vessels were exposed by 
the action of the two belligerents, an embargo was recom- 
mended, to insure their safety by keeping them in their 
own ports ; the real purpose, however, being to retaliate 
upon Great Britain, in pursuance of the policy of a Non- 
Importation Act directed against that country, which had 
gone into effect the previous July. An Act of Embargo 
was accordingly at once passed, and was approved on the 
22d of December. 4 All registered vessels belonging to 
the United States were forbidden to depart from the ports 

1 Am. State Papers, vol. iii pp. 245-247. 

2 Cobbett's Pari. Debates, vol. xiii. Appendix, pp. xxxiv-xlv. 

3 Am. State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 23, 24. 

4 Amials of Congress, 1807, p. 2814. 


in which they were then lying, except upon giving bond 
that their cargoes would be landed in another port of the 
country. This continued in force throughout the year 
1808 and until March 1, 1809, when it was repealed ; and 
for it was substituted a Non-Intercourse Act, 1 which al- 
lowed the merchant ships of the United States to go 
abroad in search of employment and to traffic between 
their own and other countries, except Great Britain and 
France and the colonies occupied by them, which were 
wholly forbidden to American vessels. They not only 
could not clear from home for those countries, but they 
were required to give bond that they would not, during 
the voyage, enter any of their ports, nor be directly or 
indirectly engaged in any trade with them. French or 
British ships entering a port of the United States were to 
be seized and condemned. This act was to continue in 
force until the end of the next session of Congress; and it 
accordingly remained the law governing the intercourse 
of the United States with Great Britain and France until 
May, 1810. 

On the 11th of November, 1807, were published the 
groat retaliatory measures of Great Britain, which for the 
m >ment filled the cup of neutrals. Setting forth the Ber- 
lin Decree as the justifying ground for their action, the 
Orders in Council of that date 2 proclaimed a paper block- 
ade, of the barest form and most extensive scope, of all 
enemies' ports. "All ports and places of France and her 
allies, or of any other country at war with his Majesty, 
and all other ports or places in Europe from which, al- 
though not at war with his Majesty, the British flag is 

i Annals of Congress, 1808-1809, p. 1824. 

s There were three Orders in Council published on the 11th of November, 
all relating to the same general subject They were followed by three others, 
issued November 25, further explaining or modifying the former three. The 
author, in his analysis, has omitted reference to particular ones; and has 
tried to present simply the essential features of the whole, suppressing 


excluded, and all ports in the colonies of his Majesty's 
enemies, shall from henceforth be subject to the same re- 
strictions, in point of trade and navigation, as if the same 
were actually blockaded in the most strict and rigorous man- 
ner. " All trade in hostile colonial produce was likewise 
declared unlawful for neutrals. 

An actual blockade, such as is here mentioned, requires 
the presence off the blockaded port of a force sufficient 
to make entrance or departure manifestly dangerous; in 
which case a vessel attempting to pass in either direction 
is, by that common consent of nations called International 
Law, justly liable to capture. To place such a force be- 
fore each of the many and widely scattered harbors em- 
braced by these Orders, was evidently beyond the power 
of even the vast numbers of the British navy. The object 
which could not be attained by the use of means acknowl- 
edged to be lawful, the British ministry determined to com- 
pass by sheer force, by that maritime supremacy which 
they unquestionably wielded, and which they could make 
effectual to the ends they had in view, namely : to maintain 
the commerce and shipping of Great Britain, upon which 
her naval strength depended, to force the enemy's trade to 
pass through her ports, and thus to raise her revenues to 
the point necessary to her salvation in the life and death 
struggle in which she was embarked. 1 

The entire suppression of trade with the restricted 
coasts, whether by neutral carriers or in the articles of 
import or export the world needed, was in no sense what- 
ever the object of the British ministers. To retaliate on 

1 The attention paid to sustaining the commerce of Great Britain was 
shown most clearly in the second Order of November 11, which overrode the 
Navigation Act by permitting any friendly vessel to import articles the 
produce of hostile countries; a permission extended later (by Act of Parlia- 
ment, April 14, 1808) to any ship, " belonging to any country, whether in 
amity with his Majesty or not." Enemy's merchant ships were thus accepted 
as carriers for British trade with restricted ports. See Am State Papers, vol. 
iii. pp. 270, 282, 


their enemy was the first aim, to make him suffer as he 
had meant to make them; but, withal, to turn his own 
measures against him, so that while he was straitened, 
Great Britain should reap some amelioration for her own 
troubles. Throughout this stormy and woeful period, the 
instinct of the British nation recognized that the hearts 
of the continental peoples were with them rather than 
with Napoleon, — and for much the same reason that the 
United States, contrary alike to the general interests of 
mankind and to her own, sided upon the whole, though 
by no means unanimously, against Great Britain. In 
either case the immediate oppressor was the object of 
hatred. Throughout the five years or more that the Con- 
tinental blockade was in force, the Continental nations 
saw the British trying everywhere, with more or less suc- 
cess, to come to their relief, — to break through the iron 
barrier which Napoleon had established. During great 
part of that time a considerable intercourse did prevail ; 
and the mutual intelligence thus maintained made clear 
to all parties the community of interests that bound them 
together, notwithstanding the political hostilities. Noth- 
ing appears more clearly, between the lines of the British 
diplomatic correspondence, than the conviction that the 
people were ready to further their efforts to circumvent 
the measures of Napoleon. 

Keeping in view the purpose of making the United 
Kingdom the centre and warehouse of the world's com- 
merce, it was evident that, provided this end — the chief 
object of the Orders in Council — were attained, the 
greater the commerce of the outside world was, the 
greater would be the advantage, or toll, resulting to 
Great Britain. The Orders therefore contained, besides 
the general principle of blockade, certain exceptions, nar- 
row in wording but wide in application. By the first, 
neutrals were permitted to trade directly between their 
own country and the hostile colonies. They were also 


allowed to trade direct between the latter and the free 
ports of the British colonies, which were thus enabled, 
in their degree, to become the centres of local commerce, 
as Britain herself was to be the entrep6t of European and 
general commerce. 

The second exception, which was particularly odious to 
neutrals, permitted the latter to go direct from a port of 
the United Kingdom to a restricted hostile port, although 
they might not start from their own country for the same, 
nor for any other place in Europe from which the British 
flag was excluded. Conversely, neutrals were at liberty 
to sail from any port of his Majesty's enemies forbidden 
to them by the Orders, provided they went direct to some 
port in Europe belonging to Great Britain; 1 but they 
might not return to their own land without first stopping 
at a British port. 

Such, stripped of their verbiage, appears to be the gist 
of the Orders in Council of November 11, 1807. Neutrals 
might not trade directly with any ports in Europe not open 
to British ships; but they might trade with them by going 
first to a British port, there landing their cargo, reship- 
ping it subject to certain duties, 2 and thence proceeding 
to a hostile port. The same process was to be observed 
on the return voyage ; it might not be direct home, but 
must first be to Great Britain. The commerce of the Con- 
tinent thus paid toll, going and coming ; or, to repeat the 
words of the ministry, there was for the enemy " no trade 
except through Great Britain." British cruisers were 

1 Gibraltar and Malta are especially named, they being natural depots 
for the Mediterranean, whence a large contraband trade was busied in 
evading Napoleon's measures. The governors of those places were author- 
ized to license even enemy's vessels, if unarmed and not over one hundred 
tons burthen, to carry on British trade, contrary to the emperor's decrees. 

2 On March 28, 1808, an Act of Parliament was passed, fixing the duties 
on exportations from Great Britain in furtherance of the provisions of the 
Orders. This Act contained a clause excepting American ships, ordered 
into British ports, from the tonnage duties laid on those which entered 


" instructed to warn any vessel which shall have com- 
menced her voyage prior to any notice of this Order, to 
discontinue it; and to proceed instead to some port in 
this kingdom, or to Gibraltar or Malta; and any vessel 
which, alter being so warned, shall be found in the prose- 
cution of a forbidden voyage, shall be captured." Vessels 
which in obedience to the warning came into a British 
port were to be permitted, after landing their cargo, to 
"re-port it for exportation, and allowed to proceed to their 
original port of destination, or to any other port at amity 
with his Majesty, upon receiving a certificate from the 
collector of the port " setting forth these facts ; but from 
this general permission to "re-port," were specially ex- 
cepted ww sugar, coffee, wine, brand\ r , snuff, and tobacco, " 
which could be exported to a restricted port only "under 
such conditions as his Majesty, by any license to be 
granted for that purpose, may direct." Licenses were 
generally necessary for export of any foreign produce or 
manufacture; while goods of British origin could be 
taken to a hostile country without such license. In the 
end, the export of cotton to the Continent was wholly for- 
bidden, the object being to cripple the foreign manufac- 
tures. Upon the license requirements was soon built up 
the extraordinary licensed traffic, which played so impor- 
tant a subordinate part in the workings both of the Orders 
and of the Continental System. 

Anything more humiliating and vexatious to neu- 
trals than these Orders can scarcely be conceived. 
They trampled upon all previously received law, upon 
men's inbred ideas of their rights; and that by sheer 
uncontrolled force, the law of the strongest. There 
was also not only denial of right, but positive injury 
and loss, direct and indirect. Yet it must not be for- 
gotten that they were a veiy real and severe measure 
of retaliation upon Napoleon's government; of which 
a contemporary German writer had truly said it was 


already wound up so tight the springs could almost 
be heard to crack. It must be remembered, too, that 
Great Britain was fighting for her life. The additional 
expense entailed upon every cargo which reached the 
Continent after passing through her ports, the expenses 
of delay, of unloading and reloading, wharfage, licenses, 
maintenance, fell chiefly upon the continental consumer; 
upon the subjects of Napoleon, or upon those whom he 
was holding in military bondage. Nor was this all. Al- 
though Great Britain was not able to blockade all the in- 
dividual French or continental ports, — an inability due 
more to the dangers of the sea than to the number of the 
harbors, — she was able to make the approach to the French 
coast exceedingly dangerous, so much so that it was more 
to the interest of the ordinary trader to submit to the Orders 
than to attempt to evade them ; especially as, upon arriving 
at a port under Napoleon's control, he found the emperor 
possessed with every disposition to confiscate his cargo, if 
a plausible pretext could be made. In the English Chan- 
nel Great Britain controlled the approaches from the Atlan- 
tic to all the northern continental ports ; and at Gibraltar 
those to the Mediterranean. The Orders were therefore 
by no means an empty threat. They could not but exer- 
cise a very serious influence upon the imports to the Con- 
tinent, and especially upon those exotic objects of 
consumption, sugar, coffee, and other tropical growths, 
which had become so essential to the comfort of people; 
and upon certain raw materials, such as cotton, dye-woods 
and indigo. Naval stores from the Baltic for England 
passed so near the French coast that they might be slipped 
in by a lucky chance ; but the neutral from the Atlantic, 
who was found near the coast of France or Spain, had to 
account for the appearances which were against him. 
These obstacles to direct import tended therefore to in- 
crease prices by diminishing supplies, and combined with 
the duties laid by Great Britain, upon the cargoes forced 


into her ports, to raise the cost of living throughout the 
Continent. The embarrassments of its unfortunate inhabi- 
tants were further augmented by the difficulty of exporting 
their own products ; and nowhere was this more keenly 
felt than in Russia, where the revenues of the nobility de- 
pended largely on the British demand for naval stores, 
and where the French alliance and the Continental Sys- 
tem were proportionately detested. 

The object of the Orders in Council was therefore two- 
fold: to embarrass France and Napoleon by the prohibi- 
tion of direct import and export trade, of all external 
commerce, which for them could only be carried on by 
neutrals : and at the same time to force into the Continent 
all the British products or manufactures that it could take. 
A preference was secured for the latter over foreign pro- 
ducts by the license practice, which left the course of 
traffic to the constant manipulation of the Board of Trade. 
The whole system was then, and has since been, roundly 
abused as being in no sense a military measure, but 
merely a gigantic exhibition of commercial greed; but 
this simply begs the question. To win her fight Great 
Britain was obliged not only to weaken Napoleon, but to 
increase her own strength. The battle between the sea and 
the land was to be fought out on Commerce. England had 
no army wherewith to meet Napoleon; Napoleon had no 
navy to cope with that of his enemy. As in the case of 
an impregnable fortress, the only alternative for either of 
these contestants was to reduce the other by starvation. 
On the common frontier, the coast line, they met in a 
deadly strife in which no weapon was drawn. The impe- 
rial soldiers were turned into coast-guards-men to shut 
out Great Britain from her markets; the British ships 
became revenue cutters to prohibit the trade of France. 
The neutral carrier, pocketing his pride, offered his ser- 
vice to either for pay, and the other then regarded him 
as taking part in hostilities. The ministry, in the exi- 

VOL. II. —19 


gencies of debate, betrayed some lack of definite convic- 
tion as to their precise aim. Sometimes the Orders were 
justified as a military measure of retaliation; sometimes 
the need of supporting British commerce as essential to 
her life and to her naval strength was alleged ; and their 
opponents in either case taunted them with inconsistency. 1 
Napoleon, with despotic simplicity, announced clearly his 
purpose of ruining England through her trade, and the 
ministry really needed no other arguments than his 
avowals. Salus civitatis suprema lex. To call the meas- 
ures of either not military, is as inaccurate as it would be 
to call the ancient practice of circumvallation unmilitary, 
because the only weapon used for it was the spade. 

Napoleon was not the man to accept silently the Orders 
in Council. On the 27th of October he had signed the 
treaty of Fontainebleau with Spain, arranging the parti- 
tion of Portugal and taking thus the first step in the 
invasion of the Peninsula. On November 16 he left Fon- 
tainebleau to visit his kingdom of Italy. From the 
capital, Milan, he issued the decree which bears its name, 
on the 17th of December, 1807. Alleging the Orders as 
its motive, the Milan Decree declared that any ship which 

1 In a debate on the Orders, March 3, 1812, the words of Spencer Perceval, 
one among the ministers chiefly responsible for them, are thus reported : 
" With respect to the principle upon which the Orders in Council were 
founded, he begged to state that he had always considered them as strictly 
retaliatory ; and as far as he could understand the matter they were most 
completely justified upon the principle of retaliation. . . . The object of the 
government was to protect and force the trade of this country, which had been 
assailed in such an unprecedented manner by the French decrees. If the 
Orders in Council had not been issued, France would have had free colonial 
trade by means of neutrals, and we should have been shut out from the Con- 
tinent. . . . The object of the Orders in Council was, not to destroy the trade of 
the Continent, but to force the Continent to trade with us." (Cobbett's Pari. 
Debates, vol. xxi. p. 1152.) 

As regards the retaliatory effect upon France, Perceval stated that the 
revenue from customs in France fell from sixty million francs, in 1807, to 
eighteen and a half million in 1808, and eleven and a half in 1809. (Ibid. 
p. 1157.) 


submitted to search by a British cruiser was thereby 
"denationalized;" a word for which, at sea, "outlaw " is 
the only equivalent. It lost the character of its own coun- 
try, so far as French cruisers were concerned, and was lia- 
ble to arrest as a vagrant The decree further declared that 
all vessels going to, or sailing from, Great Britain, were 
for that fact alone good prize, — a point which, under the 
Berlin decree, had as yet been left open. French priva- 
teers were still sufficiently numerous to make these regu- 
lations a great additional danger to ships at sea; and the 
decree went on to say that, when coming under the pre- 
vious provisions, they should be seized whenever they 
entered a French port. 

The two belligerents had now laid down the general 
lines of policy on which they intended to act. The Orders 
in Council received various modifications, due largely to 
the importance to Great Britain of the American market, 
which absorbed a great part of her manufactures; but 
these modifications, though sensibly lightening the burden 
upon neutrals and introducing some changes of form, in 
no sense departed from the spirit of the originals. The 
entire series was finally withdrawn in June, 1812, but too 
late to avert the war with the United States, which was 
declared in the same month. Napoleon never revoked his 
Berlin and Milan decrees, although by a trick he induced 
an over-eager President of the United States to believe 
that he had done so. 

In the year 1808 the emperor's purpose to overthrow 
the Spanish monarchy, and place one of his own family 
upon the throne, finally matured. He left Paris on the 
2d of April, and, after a long delay at Bordeaux, on the 
14th reached Bayonne. There took place his meetings 
with the king and infante of Spain which resulted in the 
former resigning his crown, to be disposed of as to Napo- 
leon might seem best. While at Bayonne, on April 17, 
the emperor issued an order, directing the sequestration 


of all American ships which should enter the ports of 
France, Italy, Holland, and the Hanse towns, as being 
under suspicion of having come from Great Britain. The 
justification for this step was found in the Embargo Act 
of December, 1807, in consequence of which, Napoleon 
argued, as such ships could not lawfully have left their 
own country, they came really from England, and their 
papers were fabricated. 1 Under this ruling sequestrations 
continued to be made until March 23, 1810 ; when the Decree 
of Rambouillet confiscated finally the vessels and cargoes 
thus seized. 2 After May, 1810, the Non- Intercourse Act, 
which had replaced the Embargo, was temporarily sus- 
pended as regarded both Great Britain and France, and 
never renewed as to the latter; so the plea upon which 
these confiscations had proceeded was no longer valid. 

Meanwhile the emperor's plans for the Peninsula met 
with unexpected reverses. An insurrection on the 2d of 
May in Madrid was followed by spontaneous popular ris- 
ings in all parts of the country. On the 21st of July an 
army corps under General Dupont was cut off by the in- 
surgents in Andalusia and surrendered, to the number of 
eighteen thousand, at Baylen; and on the 29th the new 
king of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, fled from Madrid, which 
he had only entered on the 20th. On the 1st of August a 
British fleet appeared off the coast of Portugal, bearing 
the first division of troops destined to act in the Peninsula, 
under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley. On the 21st 
the battle of Vimiero was fought, resulting in the defeat 
of Junot; who, by the Convention of C intra, signed on the 
30th, was permitted to evacuate Portugal and was conveyed 

1 Correspondanee de Napoleon, vol. xvii p. 19. 

2 Mr. Henry Adams (History of the United States, 1801-1817) gives 
134 as the number of American ships seized between April, 1809, and April, 
1810, and estimates the value of the vessels and cargoes at $10,000,000 
(Vol. v. p. 242.) The author takes this opportunity of acknowledging his 
great indebtedness to Mr. Adams's able and exhaustive work, in threading the 
diplomatic intricacies of this time. 


to France with his army in British transports. At the 
same time a division of the Russian fleet which had taken 
refuge in Lisbon, on its return from the Mediterranean, 
was, by a separate convention, left in the hands of Great 
Britain until the conclusion of the war. The admiral had 
steadily refused to co-operate with Junot; in which course 
he probably reflected the strong feeling of the Russian 
upper classes against the French alliance. In conse- 
quence of these successive disasters Portugal was wholly 
lost, and the French army in Spain fell back to the line 
of the Ebro. 

Napoleon realized the necessity of vigorous measures to 
suppress the general uprising, before it had attained 
organization and consistency, and determined to take the 
field in person ; but, before removing to this distant scene 
of action, he thought advisable to confirm and establish 
his understanding with the czar, upon whose support de- 
pended so much of his position in Central Europe. The 
two sovereigns met for the second time, September 27, 
1808, at Erfurt. The alliance formed at Tilsit was re- 
newed ; France undertook not to consent to peace until 
Russia obtained Finland from Sweden, Moldavia and Wal- 
lachia from Turkey ; Russia guaranteed the crown of Spain 
to Joseph; and it was agreed that a formal proposition for 
peace should at once be made to England, as publicly and 
conspicuously as possible. The czar had already in the pre- 
ceding February begun hostilities against Sweden, giving as 
a pretext her leaning toward Great Britain and her refusal 
to join with Russia and Denmark in shutting the Baltic to 
British fleets. Denmark also had declared war against 
Sweden, for carrying on which the possession of Norway 
then gave her facilities which she no longer has; and 
Prussia, on the 6th of March, had closed her ports 
against Swedish commerce "at the solicitation of the 
imperial courts of Paris and St. Petersburgh. " 

The vital importance of the Baltic to Great Britain, 


both as the source whence her naval stores were drawn 
and as a channel whereby her commerce might find a 
way into the Continent remote from the active vigilance of 
Napoleon, imposed upon her the necessity of strenuously 
supporting Sweden. A fleet of sixty-two sail, of which 
sixteen were of the line, was acordingly sent through the 
Sound in April, under Sir James Saumarez, one of the 
most distinguished of British admirals; who, to an un- 
usually brilliant reputation for seamanship, activity, and 
hard fighting, joined a calm and well-balanced temper, 
peculiarly fitted to deal with the delicate political situa- 
tion that obtained in the North during the four years of 
his Baltic command. The fleet was shortly followed by 
a body of ten thousand troops under the celebrated Sir 
John Moore ; but the rapid progress of the Russian arms 
rendered this assistance abortive, and Moore was soon 
transported to that scene of action in the Peninsula in 
connection with which his name has been immortalized. 

A joint letter, addressed to the king of Great Britain by 
the allied emperors, was forwarded through the usual 
channels by the foreign ministers of both powers on the 
12th of October. The British reply, dated October 28, 
expressed a willingness to enter into the proposed nego- 
tiations, provided the king of Sweden and the government 
acting in the name of the king of Spain, then a prisoner 
in the hands of Napoleon, were understood to be parties 
to any negotiation in which Great Britain was engaged. 
"To Spain," said the British note, "his Majesty is not 
bound by any formal instrument; but his Majesty has, in 
the face of the world, contracted with that nation engage- 
ments not less sacred, and not less binding upon his Maj- 
esty's mind, than the most solemn treaties." This reply 
was, in one point at least, open to severe criticism for 
uncalled-for insolence. To that part of the letter of the 
two sovereigns which attributed the sufferings of the Con- 
tinent to the cessation of maritime commerce, it was re- 


torted : " His Majesty cannot be expected to hear with 
unqualified regret that the system devised for the destruc- 
tion of the commerce of his subjects has recoiled upon 
its authors, or its instruments. " Nevertheless, it is im- 
possible to withhold admiration for the undaunted atti- 
tude of the solitary Power that ruled the sea, in the face 
of the two mighty sovereigns who between them controlled 
the forces of the Continent, or to refuse recognition of the 
fidelity with which, against overwhelming odds, she now, 
as always in the time of Pitt, refused to separate her cause 
from that of her allies. The decision of the British court 
was made known to Europe by a public declaration, dated 
December 15, which, while expressing the same firm re- 
solve, allowed to appear plainly the sense entertained by 
the ministry of the restiveness of the Continent under the 
yoke it was bearing. 

The proposal to include the Spanish people in the 
negotiations was rejected by both France and Russia. 
Napoleon, having in the mean time returned to Paris, left 
there on the 29th of October to take command of the 
armies, which, to the number of over three hundred thou- 
sand men of all arms, had either entered Spain or were 
rapidly converging upon it. On the 8th of November he 
crossed the frontier, and on the 4th of December Madrid 
surrendered. Northern Spain being overrun and subdued, 
the capital having fallen without any real resistance, and 
the political prestige of the insurrection being thus 
seriously, if not hopelessly, injured, the emperor now pro- 
posed to divide the mass of soldiers that had so far acted 
under his own supreme direction. In the disorganized 
and helpless condition of the Spanish people, with the 
proved weakness and imbecility of the provisional govern- 
ments, a dispersion that might otherwise be unwise be- 
came admissible. Army corps under his marshals were to 
overrun the southern provinces of the Peninsula, while an 
overwhelming force under his personal leadership was to 


cross the frontier, and carry the eagles to Lisbon, in ac- 
cordance with his boast made before leaving Paris. From 
this determination he was turned aside by the sudden in- 
telligence that the small body of British troops, com- 
manded by Sir John Moore, which he supposed to be 
retreating toward Lisbon, and which he expected to drive 
on board the ships there, had cut loose from their connec- 
tion with it, and, by a daring move to the north, were 
threatening his own lines of communication with France. 
Upon the receipt of this news, on the 21st of December, he 
at once postponed his previous purposes to the necessity of 
dislodging and driving out of Spain the little force, of 
less than twenty-five thousand men, that had dared thus 
to traverse his plans. Thus was Napoleon headed from 
his course by an imperious military necessity, and Spain 
saved at a most critical moment, by the petty army which 
had come from the sea, and which had only dared to make 
this move — well nigh desperate at the best — because it 
knew that, in the inevitable retreat, it would find in the 
sea no impassable barrier, but a hospitable host, — in truth, 
its own country. The Peninsula gained the time to breathe, 
which, unless under stern compulsion, Napoleon never 
granted to an enemy; and the opportunity thus lost to 
him never again returned. 

Thus opened the year 1809. Napoleon at the head of 
eighty thousand men was driving before him, through the 
snows of northwestern Spain, some twenty thousand Brit- 
ish troops, with the relentless energy that distinguished 
all his movements of pursuit. In the north, Russia, hav- 
ing completed the conquest of Finland, was now preparing 
to invade Sweden on the west of the Baltic, the king of 
that country was on the point of being dethroned on ac- 
count of insanity, and the policy of the nation was tend- 
ing to a peace with its gigantic enemy; which the latter 
refused to grant except upon the condition of joining the 
alliance against Great Britain. To this Sweden was most 


unwilling to accede. Her people depended wholly upon 
their produce of naval stores and grain and upon mari- 
time commerce. Hence, to lose the freedom of their trade 
was almost tantamount to destruction, and the British 
ministry from the first saw that, whatever steps Sweden 
might be forced to take, its real wishes must be to keep 
open intercourse with Great Britain. From the anxious 
and delicate position of this small country, between these 
opposing claims, arose the necessity of great prudence 
and caution on the part of the British government, of its 
diplomatic representative, and of the admiral commanding 
the fleet. The task ultimately devolved upon the latter, 
when Sweden was at last forced into formal war; and to 
his sound judgment and self-restraint was largely due that 
no actual collision took place, and that, in the decisive 
moments of 1812, she, despite her serious causes of com- 
plaint against the czar, sided with Russia, instead of 
against her. 

In Central Europe, Austria, since the peace of Presburg, 1 
three years before, had been quietly engaged in restoring 
her military strength. The various changes which had 
taken place in Germany during that time, the establish- 
ment and growth of the Confederation of the Rhine, the 
destruction of the power of Prussia, the foundation of the 
Duchy of Warsaw, combined with the great losses of terri- 
tory which she had herself undergone, had left Austria in 
a position that she could not possibly accept as final; while 
the alliance between Russia and France placed her in a 
state of isolation, which Napoleon had been careful to 
emphasize during the meeting at Erfurt. The renewal of 
the war between herself and France was therefore in the 
nature of things. The only question to be decided was 
when to declare it; 2 but this was a matter which Napo- 
leon, who fully understood the political situation, was not 

1 December 26, 1805. 

2 Metternieh's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 82. 


in the habit of allowing an enemy to determine. He un- 
dertook his Spanish enterprise with the full knowledge 
that his absence, and that of his Grand Army, in the Penin- 
sula must be short; he understood that a prolonged stay 
there, caused by lack of immediate and decisive success, 
would give Austria the opportunity she needed ; but he had 
reasonable expectation of accomplishing his task, and re- 
turning with his army to his eastern frontiers, within a 
safe period of time. This hope was frustrated by the 
action of Sir John Moore. The year 1809 therefore opened 
with the prospect of war impending over the two em- 
pires. "From the frontiers of Austria to the centre, of 
Paris," wrote Metternich, "I have found but one opinion 
accepted by the public, — that is, that in the spring at 
latest, Austria will take the field against France. This 
conclusion is drawn from the relative position of the two 
powers. " 1 

Underlying the other contentions, affecting them all 
with the unheeded, quiet, but persistent action which 
ordinarily characterizes the exertions of sea power, fer- 
menting continually in the hearts of the people, was the 
commercial warfare, the absence of that maritime peace 
for which the nations sighed. The Berlin and Milan de- 
crees on the one side, the Orders in Council on the other, 
were still, at the opening of 1809, in full force. France, 
which especially needed the concurrence of neutral car- 
riers, had taken away even the slight chances of reaching 
her ports which British cruisers might leave, by pronounc- 
ing confiscation on any ship which had submitted to a 
search, though it was powerless to resist. Great Britain, 
on the other hand, having shut out all competition with 
her own trade to the Continent by the blockade, which 
forbade direct access to neutral ships, was prepared to 
avail herself of every chance to force upon Europe, at any 
point, and by any means, neutral or other, any and all 

1 Metternich to Stadion, Jan. 11, 1809; Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 312. 


merchandise, manufactured or colonial, which came from 
her own warehouses. For this the license system offered 
a means of which neutrals were only too ready to avail 
themselves. A British license could admit them to any 
port from which a British blockade excluded them ; and, 
as it was only to be obtained legitimately in a British 
port, the neutral carriers, when there, naturally filled up 
with the most paying cargo, whatever its origin. 

In the years from 1806 to 1810, as at earlier periods of 
the revolutionary wars, Holland and the Hanse towns com- 
peted for the profits of this indirect and often contraband 
trade. In June, 1806, Napoleon, in pursuance of his 
policy of placing members of his own family upon the 
thrones of the Continent, had obtained the conversion of 
Holland from a republic to a monarchy and bestowed its 
crown upon his brother Louis. The latter sought from 
the first to identify himself with his new subjects, and 
constantly withstood the commands of Napoleon in favor 
of their interests. Foremost among these was maritime 
commerce, for which geographical position and genera- 
tions of habit especially fitted the Dutch. With such 
dispositions on the part of the king, notwithstanding the 
jealous watchfulness and sharp remonstrances of the em- 
peror, evasions were frequent, and the decrees even openly 
disregarded on different pretences. The whole community 
naturally engaged in undertakings at once so consonant to 
its habits and so remunerative when successful. From 
tln i time the Berlin decree was issued until after the war 
with Austria in 1809, Napoleon's attention, though often 
angrily attracted by Holland and the neglect of his 
orders, was still too much diverted to admit of the deci- 
sive measures needed to enforce them. First, the Rus- 
sian war in 1807, then the affairs of the Peninsula ex- 
tending through 1808, finally the Austrian war in 1809 
with his hazardous position between the battles of Essling 
and Wagram, accompanied a3 the whole period was with 


financial difficulties and expedients due to the straits of 
the empire under the cessation of maritime commerce, 
occupied his mind almost wholly, and allowed but partial 
attention to the Continental System. 

Neutral ships therefore continued to be openly admitted 
into Holland, and the emperor's demands for their con- 
fiscation to be eluded ; and there was besides much smug- 
gling, for which the character of the coast and its 
nearness to England offered ample facilities. From 
Holland the goods usually found their way without great 
difficulty into France, though on two occasions Napoleon, 
to punish Holland for her waywardness, closed the fron- 
tier against her. "Your Majesty," wrote he to Louis, 
"took advantage of the moment in which I had embar- 
rassments upon the Continent, to allow the relations be- 
tween Holland and England to be resumed ; to violate the 
laws of the blockade, the only measure by which that 
power can be seriously injured. I showed my dissatisfac- 
tion by forbidding France to you, and made you feel that, 
without having recourse to my armies, I could, by closing 
the Rhine, the Weser, the Scheldt, and the Meuse to 
Holland, place her in a position more critical than by 
declaring war against her. I was so isolating her as to 
annihilate her. The blow resounded in Holland. Your 
Majesty appealed to my generosity. ... I removed the 
line of custom-houses ; but your Majesty returned to your 
former system. It is true I was then at Vienna, and had 
a grievous war upon my hands. All the American ships 
which entered the ports of Holland, while they were re- 
pelled from those of France, your Majesty received. I 
have been obliged a second time to close my custom- 
houses to Dutch commerce. ... I will not conceal my 
intention to re-unite Holland to France, to round off her 
territory, as the most disastrous blow I can deal to Eng- 
land. " He consented, however, to suspend his action, 
upon condition that the existing stores of colonial mer- 


chandise were confiscated, as well as the cargoes of the 
American ships. 1 

The important part played in the former war by Ham- 
burg and Bremen, as commercial centres and ware- 
houses for continental trade, has already been mentioned. 
To a certain extent they still fulfilled the same function, 
but under greatly altered conditions. The political 
changes following the war of 1806 and 1807, and the 
presence of French troops in Prussian fortresses and 
throughout Northern Germany, combined to make them 
subservient, as Prussia was, to the emperor's wishes. In 
point of form the continental blockade extended throughout 
all this region, as in Holland ; everywhere vessels and mer- 
chandise coming from Great Britain were proscribed and 
should be confiscated, whenever found. 2 All the shores of 
the North Sea, those of Denmark, and, by the co-operation 
of the czar, the coasts of the Baltic, shared the general 
prohibition. The minister of France at Hamburg found 
his chief occupations in either demanding subsidies — con- 
tributions in money or kind — for the French troops, or in 
insisting, much against his will, upon increased severity 
against the introduction of British goods. The distress 
occasioned by these stringent requirements was very great, 
even while Napoleon's other preoccupations lasted; but 
the general consent of all the people in passive resistance, 
the activity of smugglers, and the corruption that ever 
hangs about custom-houses and increases with the duties, 
conspired to mitigate the privations. The coasts of the 

1 Letter of Napoleon to Louis, dated Trianon, Dec 20, 1808; Mc'moires 
de Bourrienne, vol. viii p. 134. Garnier's Louis Bonaparte, p. 351. The 
date should he 1809. On Dec 20, 1808, Napoleon was at Madrid, in 1809 at 
Trianon; not to speak of the allusion to the Austrian war of 1809. 

2 Napoleon issued orders to this effect in August, 1807. Cargoes of goods 
such as England might furnish were sequestrated; those that could not pos- 
sibly be of British origin, as naval stores and French' wines, were admitted. 
All vessels were to be prevented from leaving the Weser. No notification of 
this action was given to foreign agents. See Cobbett's Political Register, 
1807, pp. 857-859. 


North Sea, between the mouths of the Ems, the Weser, 
and the Elbe, and those of Danish Holstein, low, of diffi- 
cult approach for large vessels, and hence favorable to the 
multiplication of small boats and the operations of those 
having local knowledge, fostered smuggling; to which also 
conduced the numbers of fishermen, and the fringe of off- 
lying islands, out of the reach of the ordinary custom- 
house officer. 

To support this contraband trade, the British, on the 
5th of September, 1807, seized Heligoland and converted 
it into a depot for goods waiting to be introduced into 
Germany or Holstein. " A garrison of six hundred men 
defended the island, and ships of war cruised continually 
in its neighborhood. From there contraband traders 
obtained merchandise, with which they supplied the Con- 
tinent. Farmers along the coast received these smuggled 
goods, which were taken from them during the night 
and spread far and wide. The populations of the various 
countries aided the smugglers, joined them in opposing 
the revenue officers and in seducing the latter from their 
duty. " * Between Holstein and Hamburg was drawn up a 
close line of custom-house officials; but the forbidden 
goods leaked through all barriers. " More than six thou- 
sand persons of the lower and middle classes passed their 
day in going more than twenty times from Altona, in 
Holstein, to Hamburg. Punishments and confiscations 
fell upon the guilty; but this did not put an end to the 
incessant strife, sometimes by cunning, sometimes by 
force, against this fiscal tyranny, " 2 Between five and six 
hundred women were employed by the merchants of Ham- 
burg daily to convey into the city, each of them, fourteen 
pounds of coffee and other produce, concealed beneath 
their garments. 3 

1 Thiers, Consulate and Empire (Forbes's translation), vol. xii. p. 21. 

2 Me'moires de Bourrienne, French Minister at Hamburg, vol. viii. pp- 

3 Annual Register, 1809; State Papers, 747. 


In the Baltic conditions were somewhat different. Much 
there depended upon the heartiness of the czar in the 
cause ; upon whether he would content himself with a 
bare perfunctory compliance with the letter of his engage- 
ments at Tilsit and Erfurt, or would decisively enforce an 
entire cessation of traffic with Great Britain. The latter 
course, however, was impossible to Alexander. Impul- 
sive and ambitious, he yet lacked the hardness of charac- 
ter needed to disregard the cold disapproval of the nobles 
and the distress of his subjects. Under the influence of 
Napoleon's presence, of his fascination and his promises, 
it had seemed possible to do that which in the isolation 
of his court, and deprived of sympathy, became drearily 
monotonous; nor did Napoleon, by fidelity to his word, 
make the task easier. Decrees of great severity were 
issued, 1 and the British flag was honestly excluded; but 
the quick mercantile intelligence soon detected that no 
ill-timed curiosity as to ships' papers would be exercised, 2 
nor vexatious impediments thrown in the way of exporting 
the national products, which, if essential to Great Brit- 
ain's naval supremacy, were no less the source of Russia's 
wealth. In truth, British consumption of naval stores, 
and British capital invested in Russia, had been leading 
elements in the prosperity of the country; and it had been 
no light sacrifice to concede such advantages as the czar 
had already yielded. 

Such was the working condition of the Continental 
System between 1806 and 1810. Despite the general dis- 
quietude in Great Britain and the undoubted impediments 
raised to that free export upon which her prosperity was 

1 April 1, 1808 ; Naval Chronicle, vol. xxi. p 48. May 7, 1809; Annual 
Register, 1809, p. 698. 

2 Napoleon saw, in 1809, that his work at Tilsit was all to he done over, 
since the only war Russia could make against the English was hy commerce, 
which Avas protected nearly as hefore. There was sold in Mayence sugar and 
coffee which came from Riga. — Memoires de Savary, due de Rovigo (Im- 
perial Chief of Police), vol. iii. p. 135. 


based, the general confidence was unabated. 1 Much was 
hoped from the resistance of the continental peoples, more 
from their steadfast evasion of the edicts. In 1806, just 
before the Berlin decree was issued, but when the system 
was already in force, a commercial magazine wrote : " The 
regulations adopted only show the ignorance of the French 
government of commercial principles. When the block- 
ade of the Elbe was removed, instead of finding markets 
exhausted and prices enhanced, they were found over- 
stocked." 2 "In spite of every prohibition British goods 
continue (Dec.l, 1806) to find their way in vast quanti- 
ties into France. They are exported hence on French 
orders. It is easy to insure them for the whole transit to 
the town in France where they are to be delivered to the 
purchaser. They are introduced at almost all parts of the 
land confines of the French Empire. No sooner are they 
received into the French merchant's warehouse, than evi- 
dence is procured that they are of French manufacture; 
the proper marks are stamped, and the goods are in a 
state to be exhibited, in proof that the manufactures of 
France quite outrival those of England. The writer had 
this information from gentlemen who have a concern in 
the trade to which it relates." 3 "Though the port of 
Venice is now totally shut against British commerce, as 
also the peninsula of Istria from whence Italian silk has 
always been obtained, yet through neutral vessels we now 
obtain Piedmont silk, which is the best and finest, direct 
from Leghorn, Lucca, and Genoa. " 4 " From Malta a brisk 

1 D'lvernois, Effects of the Continental blockade, London, Jan., 1810. 
Lord Grenville, one of the leaders of the Opposition, expressed a similar con- 
fidence when speaking in the House of Lords, Feb. 8, 1810. (Cobbett's Pari. 
Debates, vol. xv. p. 347.) So also the King's speech at the opening of Tar- 
liament, Jan. 19, 1809: "The public revenues, notwithstanding we are shut 
out from almost all the continent of -Europe and entirely from the United 
States, has increased to a degree never expected, even by those persons who 
were most sanguine." (Naval Chronicle, vol. xxi. p. 48.) 

2 Monthly Magazine, vol. xxi. p. 195. 8 Ibid., vol. xxii. p. 514. 
4 Ibid., vol. xxi. p. 539. 


trade, yielding quick returns, is kept up with the ports of 
Italy. Malta is the emporium, the storehouse. From 
Malta we supply Leghorn and other places in the power 
of France. But the British goods are sold, even before 
they are landed, for ready money; and scarcely a pound's 
worth of British property is at any moment hazarded 
where the French might seize it. " l 

Indications of embarrassment now begin to accumulate, 
but still, in January, 1808, we read: "Several ships from 
Holland have lately entered our harbors, and brought over 
large quantities of goods usually imported from Hamburg. 
This is a proof of the futility of Bonaparte's commercial 
speculations. " 2 Russia had by this declared against Great 
Britain, causing a rise in all Russian produce ; and the 
Embargo Act of the United States had just gone into 
operation. There is a vast falling off in the Baltic and 
American trade. In 1805 over eleven thousand ships 
had passed through the Sound, going and coming; in 
1807 barely six thousand, and British ships are excluded 
from all but Swedish harbors. In August, 1808, the ports 
of Holland are opened for the export of Dutch butter, and 
two hundred bales of silk are allowed to be smuggled out, 
for which a bribe of six thousand guineas was extorted by 
some person in authority. 3 In 1809 a notice again oc- 
curs of the ports of Holland being opened by the king; 
and concurrently, West India produce, which has been for 
some months dull, is found more in demand and com- 
manding good prices. 4 Malta is doing a famous business 
at the same time, and has become one of the greatest depots 
in the Mediterranean. 6 

The year 1809 was marked by a great, though tempo- 
rary, revival of trade, due to several causes. Napoleon 
himself was detained during great part of the } r ear in the 

1 Monthly Magazine, vol. xxii. p. 618. 

2 Ibid., vol. xxiv. p. 611. 8 Ibid., vol. xxvi. p. 11. 
4 Ibid., vol. xxvii. pp. 417, 641. 5 Ibid., p. 135. 

vol. II. —20 


heart of Austria, absorbed in one of his most doubtful 
contests with the empire ; and in his absence trade with 
the North Sea ports went on almost as in time of peace. 
In the United States an eager British minister, of politics 
opposed to the party in power, had committed himself 
without due authority to an official statement to the gov- 
ernment that the Orders in Council would be rescinded by 
June 10. The President, without waiting to hear further, 
removed the restrictions of the Non-Intercourse Act on 
that date; and accordingly, for some months there was 
free traffic and a very great interchange of goods between 
the United States and Great Britain. In South America, 
the withdrawal of the Portuguese court to Brazil and the 
uprising of Spain against Napoleon had resulted in throw- 
ing open the colonial ports to Great Britain ; and an im- 
mense wave of speculative shipments, heavily employing 
the manufactories, was setting in that direction. In the 
Baltic, the czar was wearying of his engagements with 
France, and of the emperor's tergiversations; wearying 
too, of the opposition of his court and subjects. He ad- 
hered faithfully, indeed, to the letter of his bargain and 
refused admission to British ships: but he would not open 
his eyes to the fact that British commerce was being car- 
ried on in his ports by neutrals with British licenses. He 
had never promised to exclude neutrals, or forbid all export 
and import; and it was none of his business to pry behind 
the papers that covered transactions essential to his people. 
The imports to Great Britain of naval stores, mainly from 
the Baltic, more than doubled from 1808 to 1809, and 
were even greater the following year. 1 Wool from Spain 
and silk from Italy experienced a similar rise. Even 
West India produce, so vigorously excluded from the Con- 
tinent, shared the general advance ; and there was a great, 
though feverish and unsound, hope of returning prosperity. 
It was evident that Napoleon's measures were meeting 

1 Tooke's History of Prices, vol. i. pp. 300, 301. 


only partial success, and men were willing to believe that 
their failure lay in the nature of things, — in the impos- 
sibility of his attempt. They had yet to learn that per- 
secution fails only when it is not, or cannot be, thorough 
and unrelenting. 

Among the multiplied impediments to intercourse be- 
tween nations, due first of all to the narrow ideas of com- 
mercial policy prevalent at that epoch, increased by the 
state of open maritime war or hostile exclusion existing 
between Great Britain and most of the continental coun- 
tries, and further complicated by the continental blockade 
of Napoleon and the retaliatory orders of the British gov- 
ernment, there arose an obscure but extensive usage of 
" licenses ;" which served, though but partially, and in a 
wholly arbitrary manner, to remove some of the difficulties 
that prevented the exchange of commodities. A license, 
from its name, implies a prohibition which is intended to 
be removed in the particular case; and the license prac- 
tice of the Napoleonic wars was for the most part not so 
much a system, as an aggregation of individual permis- 
sions to carry on a traffic forbidden by the existing laws 
of the authority granting them. The licenses were issued 
both by the British government and by Napoleon; and 
they were addressed, according to the character of the 
sway borne by one party or the other, either to the police 
of the seas, the armed cruisers, or to the customs authori- 
ties of the continental ports. It was generally admitted 
in Great Britain that the Board of Trade was actuated 
only by upright motives in its action, though the practice 
was vigorously attacked on many grounds, — chiefly in 
order to impugn the Orders in Council to which alone 
their origin was attributed; but in France the taint of 
court corruption, or favoritism, in the issue of licenses 
was clearly asserted. 1 

1 Salgues, Momoires pour servir a l'histoire de la France, vol. viii. pp. 
350-355. Mcmoires de Marmont, due de Raguse, vol. iii. p. 365. Memoires 
de Savary, due de Rovigo, vol. v. p. 115. 


The "License System," in the peculiar and extensive 
form to which the phrase was commonly applied, was 
adopted by the British government in 1808, 1 immediately 
after the Orders in Council and the alliance of Russia 
with Napoleon. Licenses did not then first begin to be 
issued, nor were they then for the first time necessary ; 2 
but then began the development which carried their num- 
bers from two thousand six hundred and six in 1807, to 
over fifteen thousand in 1809 and^over eighteen thousand 
in 1810. After the last year there was a rapid falling 
off, due, not to a change of system, but to the bitter 
experience that the license, which protected against a 
British cruiser, did not save the ship and cargo upon 
arrival in a port under Napoleon's control, when he had 
at last devoted his indomitable energy to the thorough en- 
forcement of his decrees. During the years in which the 
practice flourished, it was principally to the Baltic ports 
that the licensed vessels went, though they also made their 
way to those of Holland, France, Spain, and other coun- 
tries on the Continent. The trade to the British East and 
West Indies was confined to British vessels, as in time of 
profound peace. 

The true origin of the later license trade is to be found 
in that supremacy and omnipresence of the British navy, 
which made it impossible for vessels under an enemy's 
flag to keep the sea. In order to employ their vessels, 
hostile owners transferred them to a neutral ownership, 
ordinarily by a fraudulent process which received the 
name of " neutralization. " A neutralized ship remained 

1 Quarterly "Review, May, 1811, p. 465. 

2 For instance, a license was necessary for a British subject to ship any 
articles to an enemy's port, though in a neutral vessel. In principle, licenses 
are essential to trade with an enemy. In 1805 and 1807 Orders in Council 
dispensed with the necessity of a license in particular instances ; but even 
then merchants preferred to take out a license, because it cut short any ques- 
tions raised by British cruisers, and especially by privateers. See Cobbett's 
Pari. Debates, vol. x. p. 924. 


the property of the hostile merchant ; but, for a stipulated 
price, a neutral firm, who made this their regular business, 
gave their name as the owners and obtained from the 
authorities of the neutral country all the requisite papers 
and attestations by which the British cruisers, on search- 
ing, might be deceived. As a regular systematic business, 
fraudulent from beginning to end, the practice first arose 
during the war of the American Revolution, in 1780, when 
Holland became a party to the war, having a large mer- 
cantile tonnage with very inadequate means of protecting 
it. At that time a firm established itself in Embden, on 
the Prussian side of the Ems, which divides Prussia from 
Holland, and within the two years that remained of the 
war " neutralized, " under Prussian flags, a hundred thou- 
sand tons of foreign shipping, besides cargoes to an im- 
mense value for those days. In the wars of Napoleon it 
was the fate of Holland to be again dragged in the wake 
of France, and the same practice of neutralization, sup- 
ported by false oaths and false papers, again sprang up 
and flourished extensively in the Prussian province of 
East Friesland, — Prussia carefully maintaining her 
neutrality from 1795 to the unfortunate Jena campaign 
of 1806. 

In the year 1806 it was asserted that there were up- 
wards of three thousand sail belonging to merchants of 
Holland, France, and Spain navigating under the Prussian 
flag : and the practice doubtless was not confined to Prussia. 
"It is notorious," wrote Lord Howick, the British foreign 
minister, "that the coasting trade of the enemy is carried 
on not only by neutral ships but by the shameful miscon- 
duct of neutral merchants, who lend their names for a 
small percentage, not only to cover the goods, but in num- 
berless instances to mask the ships of the enemy." 1 The 
fact becoming known, British cruisers, when meeting a 
valuable ship with Prussian papers, were apt to take the 

1 Cobbett's Pari. Debates, vol. x. p. 406. 


chance of her being condemned and send, her in; but 
even in British ports and admiralty courts the neutral- 
izing agent was prepared to cover his transaction. 
The captain and crew of the detained vessel were all 
carefully instructed and prepared to swear to the false- 
hoods, which were attested by equally false papers 
sworn to before Prussian judges. To this trade, it 
was alleged, France owed the power to obtain naval 
stores despite the British blockade of her arsenals. The 
frauds recoiled in a curious way on the head of Prussia; 
for, in the later stage of the Jena campaign, the neu- 
tralized ships supplied French magazines in the Baltic 
ports, the French hospitals at Lubeck, and the army 
that besieged Dantzic. The capture of vessels, the char- 
acter of whose papers was suspected, served to swell 
the cry against Great Britain for violating neutral rights, 
induced greater severity in the British naval measures, 
and so directly contributed to the Berlin Decree and the 
Orders in Council. 1 

Thus had stood the neutralizing trade toward the end of 
1805. After Napoleon had finally abandoned all thought of 
invading England, the victorious campaign of Austcrlitz and 
the peace of Presburg, extending by conquest the boundaries 
of the empire, extended also the sweep of those municipal 
regulations, already in force, which excluded British goods 
from French territory. Early in 1806, beguiling Prussia 
into hostilities with Great Britain through the occupation 
of Hanover, the emperor compassed also the closure of the 
great German rivers. Peace was indeed soon restored; 
but the Jena campaign, quickly following, delivered Prus- 
sia, bound hand and foot, to Napoleon's dictates. In the 
summer of 1807 the Peace of Tilsit united the empires of 

1 For an interesting account of the neutralizing trade, see Naval Chronicle, 
vol. xxxi. pp. 288-295, and vol. xxxii. p. 119. On the License System, the 
Parliamentary Debates (table of contents), and the Quarterly Keview of May, 
1811, may be consulted. 


the East and West in a common exclusion of Britisli 
trade to which Prussia could not but accede. Great 
Britain thus found herself face to face with no mere 
municipal regulations of one or two countries, but with a 
great political combination aiming at her destruction 
through the commerce which was her life. Nor was this 
combination merely one of those unfriendly acts which 
seeks its end by peaceful means, like the Non-Intercourse 
Acts of America. The British cabinet was perfectly in- 
formed that the minor states were to be coerced, by direct 
military force, into concurrence with the commercial 
policy of France and Russia- a concurrence essential 

to its success. . 

It was necessary for Great Britain to meet this threaten- 
in- conjunction, with such measures as should reduce the 
proposed injury to an amount possible for her to bear, until 
the inevitable' revulsion came. She found ready to her 
hand the immense unprincipled system of neutralized ves- 
sels, and by means of them and of veritable neutrals she 
proposed to maintain her trade with the Continent. To do 
bo, without reversing the general lines of her policy, as laid 
down in the Orders in Council, it was necessary to supp y 
each neutral employed with a clear and unmistakable 
paper, which would insure beyond peradventure the re- 
spect of British cruisers for a class of vessels they had 
been accustomed to regard with suspicion. It would not 
do that a ship engaged in maintaining a British trade that 
was in great danger of extinction should be stopped by 
their own cruisers. The wording of the licenses was 
therefore emphatically sweeping and forcible. They pro- 
tects! against detention the vessel carrying one, whatever 
the fin- she (lew (the French flag alone being excepted), 
and directed that "the vessel shall be allowed to proceed, 
notwithstanding all the documents which accompany the 
ship and cargo may represent the same to be destined to 
any neutral or hostile port, or to whomsoever such prop- 


erty may belong. " 1 These broad provisions were necessary, 
for the flags flown, except that of the United States, were 
those of nations which had, willingly or under duress, 
entered the Continental System; and the papers, having 
to undergo the scrutiny of hostile agents at the ports of 
arrival, had to be falsified, or, as it was euphoniously 
called, "simulated," to deceive the customs officer, if 
zealous, or to give him, if lukewarm, fair ground for ad- 
mitting the goods. The license protected against the 
British cruiser, which otherwise would have detained the 
vessel on the ground of her papers, intended to deceive 
the port officers. "The system of licenses," said an ad- 
verse petition, "renders it necessary lor the ships em- 
ployed to be provided with sets of forged, or, as they are 
termed, simulated papers." 2 Of these, two sets were 
commonly carried, the paper, the wax for the seals, and 
other accompaniments being carefully imitated, and sig- 
natures of foreign rulers, as of Napoleon and of the Presi- 
dent and Secretary of State of the United States, skilfully 
forged. 3 The farms conducting this business made them- 
selves known to the mercantile community by circular 
letters. 4 

In this way large fleets of licensed vessels under the 
flags of Prussia, Denmark, Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, Knip- 
hausen, and other almost unknown German principalities, 
as well as many American merchant ships, went yearly 
to the Baltic laden with British and colonial produce, and 
returned with the timber, hemp, tallow, and grain of the 
North. They entered St. Petersburg and every port in 
the Baltic, discharged, loaded with the return cargo, and 
then repaired to a common rendezvous ; whence, when col- 

1 Quarterly Review, May, 1811, p 461. Lindsay's History of Merchant 
Shipping, vol li. p 316. 

2 Petition of Hull merchants, 1812; Cobbett's Pari. Debates, vol xxi. 
p. 979. 

3 Am. State Papers, vol. iii p. 341. 

4 Cobbett's Parliamentary Debates, vol. xxi. p. 1113. 


lccted to the number of about five hundred, they sailed for 
Great Britain under convoy of ships of war, to protect them 
against the privateers that swarmed in the Sound and North 
Sea. 1 Crushed between England and France, the Danish 
seamen, who would not come into the licensed service of 
the former, had lost their livelihood and had turned in a 
body to privateering, in the practice of which they fell 
little short of piracy; 2 and French privateers also found 
the ground profitable for cruising. 

It was to this disposition of the north countries, as well 
as to conciliate the United States, that was probably due 
the Order in Council of April 26, 1809; which, while 
preserving the spirit, and probably securing the advan- 
tages of those of November, 1807, nevertheless formally 
and in terms revoked the latter, except so far as expressly 
stated in the new edict. The constructive, or paper, 
blockade, which under the former orders extended to 
every port whence the British flag was excluded, was 
now narrowed down to the coasts of Holland, France, and 
so much of Italy as was under Napoleon's immediate 
dominion. The reasons assigned for this new measure 
were "the divers events which had taken place since 
the date of the former orders, affecting the relations 
between Great Britain and the territories of other pow- 
ers." The Spanish peninsula, being now in open and 
general revolt against Napoleon, was of course exempted ; 
and southern Italy, by its nearness to Malta and Sicily, 
one a possession and the other an ally of England, might 
more readily be supplied from them than by neutrals 
coming from a greater distance. The maintenance of the 
blockade of Holland was particularly favorable to British 
trade. By that means the great articles of continental 

1 Ross's Life of Admiral Saumarez, vol. ii. pp. 196, 241. 

2 In the years 1809 and 1810 one hundred and sixty American vessels 
alone were seized by Danish privateers. Only a part, however, were con- 
demned. (Am. State Papers, vol. iii p. 521.) 


consumption could reach Holland and France, direct, only 
by British license, which meant that they came from Eng- 
land ; while, if carried from a neutral country to the Ger- 
man rivers, to the Hanse towns, or to the Baltic, as the 
new Order allowed them to be, they had to be brought 
thence to the regions more immediately under Napoleon's 
government by land carriage, which would so raise their 
price as not to conflict with the British licensed trade. 
Thus the condition of the suffering neutral populations 
was relieved, without loosening the pressure upon 
France; and some of the offence given to the neutral 
carriers was removed. Another advantage accrued to 
Great Britain from thus throwing open the trade to the 
Baltic to all neutrals; for the great demand and high 
prices of naval equipment would induce them to bring 
these to the British market and arsenals, in preference to 
other countries. 

This Order was issued at the moment when the British 
minister at Washington was assuring the American 
government that the Orders in Council would be 
wholly withdrawn on the 10th of June following. 1 At 
the same time the French and Austrians were draw- 
ing near to each other on the fields of Germany. On 
the 6th of April the Archduke Charles issued his address 
to the Austrian army, and on the 10th crossed the Inn, 
moving toward Bavaria. On the 12th Napoleon quitted 
Paris to place himself at the head of his troops, which 
had already preceded him, but were then scattered in 
different positions, in sore need of his directing hand. 
On the 17th he was in their midst. On the same day the 
first collision occurred with Davout's corps under the 
walls of Ratisbon. Five days of active manoeuvring and 
hard fighting succeeded, ending with the battle of 
Eckmuhl; after which the Archduke, outgeneralled and 
defeated, fell back into Bohemia. On the 12th of May 

1 Erskine's note to that effect was dated April 19, 1809. 


Vienna surrendered, and on the 13th Napoleon entered 
the Austrian capital for the second time in his career. 

In the same eventful week, and on the very day of the 
battle of Eckmuhl, Sir Arthur Wellesley again landed at 
Lisbon to begin his memorable four years of command in 
the Peninsula. Napoleon had relinquished to Soult the 
pursuit of Sir John Moore, while still in mid-career; and 
after the embarkation of the British army from Coruiia 
and the surrender of that city, January 16-26, 1809, the 
marshal was ordered to invade Portugal. After a difficult 
series of operations, Oporto was reached and stormed on 
the 20th of March ; but Soult lacked the means to push fur- 
ther south. Wellesley, on his arrival, at once decided to 
march against him, in preference to attacking the French 
forces in Spain on the line of the Tagus. On the 12th of 
May, the same day that Vienna surrendered, the British 
troops crossed the Douro, Soult was forced to evacuate 
Oporto in haste, retreated to the northward, and re-entered 
Spain. The British general then returned with his army 
to the Tagus, and on the 27th of June advanced along that 
line into Spain. On the 28th of July he fought the bat- 
tle of Talavera; but, though victorious, the failure of the 
Spanish troops to support him, their unreliable character 
as soldiers, and the want of provisions, compelled him to 
return at the end of August into Portugal, where he took 
up a position close to the frontier. 

The French movements in Spain were rendered indecisive 
by lack of unity in the direction of the armies, due to the 
military incapacity of the king and the jealousies of the 
different marshals. The same early summer months were 
passed by Napoleon in a desperate struggle on the banks of 
the Danube, below Vienna. Though the capital had fallen, 
the Austrian army still remained, chastened but not sub- 
dued, and now confronted him on the north side of the 
stream under a general of a high order of merit, if in- 
ferior to the great emperor. To cross from the south to 


the north bank of the broad river, in the face of such a 
foe, was no light undertaking even for Napoleon. The 
first attempt began on the 20th of May ; and during the 
two succeeding days the French army passed slowly across 
the insufficient bridges which alone could be thrown, for 
lack of proper material. During the 21st and 22d con- 
tinued the strife, known in history as. the battle of Ess- 
ling; and on the latter day some sixty thousand French 
troops were in action with the Austrians, when the great 
bridge, joining the south shore to the island of Lobau in 
mid-stream, gave way before a freshet, which had already 
raised the waters of the Danube by fourteen feet. The 
supply of ammunition to the engaged troops ceased, and it 
therefore became impossible to retain the positions already 
gained. During the night of the 22d the corps on the 
north side were withdrawn into the island; and for the 
next six weeks Napoleon was untiringly occupied in pro- 
viding materials for bridges which would be sure not to 
fail him. At last, when all was prepared, the army 
again crossed, and on the 6th of July was fought the 
memorable battle of Wagram. Terminating in the defeat 
of the Austrians, it was followed on the 12th by an armis- 
tice ; and a definitive treaty of peace was ratified at Vienna 
on the 15th of October. Austria surrendered all her re- 
maining seaboard on the Adriatic, besides portions of her 
interior territory, and again acceded to the prohibition of 
British goods of all kinds within her dominions. 

A month before, September 17, 1809, peace had been 
concluded between Russia and Sweden ; the latter ceding 
Finland and engaging to close her ports to all British 
ships, " with the exception of the importation of salt and 
colonial productions, which habit had rendered necessary 
to the people of Sweden." 1 On the 6th of January Napo- 
leon, less merciful than the czar, exacted a convention 
which allowed only the entry of salt, excluding explicitly 

1 Annual Register, 1809, p. 726. 


the colonial produce permitted by the Russian treaty; in 
return for which he restored Pomerania to Sweden. 1 
Thus were formally closed to Great Britain all the north- 
ern ports through which, by the license trade, she had 
continued to pour her merchandise into the Continent, 
though in much diminished volume. 

It now became Napoleon's great object to enforce the 
restrictions, which had thus been wrested from vanquished 
opponents in support of his continental policy, by in- 
creased personal vigilance and by urgently reiterated de- 
mands, for which he had an undeniable ground in the 
express terms of his treaties with the sea-board powers. 
Upon the Continent, except in the Spanish peninsula, the 
treaty of Vienna was followed by a peace of exhaustion, 
which lasted nearly three years. The emperor returned to 
Fontainebleau on the 26th of October, and at once began 
the dispositions from which he hoped the reduction of 
Great Britain, but which irresistibly led, step by step, to 
his own final overthrow. The French army was with- 
drawn from southern Germany, but gradually; remaining 
long enough in the various conquered or allied countries 
to ease the imperial treasury from the expense of their 
support, according to Napoleon's invariable policy. The 
evacuation was not completed until the first of June, 1810. 
A hundred thousand men, chiefly new levies, were di- 
rected on Spain, together with the Imperial Guard, the 
supposed precursor of the emperor himself ; but the best 
of the troops, the hardened corps of Davout and Massena, 
were reserved for northern Germany and the Dutch fron- 
tiers, to enforce the submission of the people to the 
continental blockade. Napoleon himself did not go to 
Spain, and that tedious war dragged wearily on, with 
greater or less vigor here or there, according to the 
qualities of the different leaders; but lacking the unity of 
aim, the concert of action, which nothing but the presence 

1 Moniteur, Feb. 24, 1810. 


of a master spirit could insure among so many generals of 
equal rank, imbued with mutual jealousy, and each taxed 
with a burden that demanded his utmost strength. Around 
Lisbon, Wellington was preparing the lines of Torres 
Vedras, and thus striking deep into the soil of the Penin- 
sula a grip from which all the armies of France could not 
shake him, so long as the navy of Great Britain stood at 
his back, securing his communications and his line of 
retreat; but of this Napoleon knew nothing. 

It was above all things necessary to bring the Spanish 
war to an end, and the emperor was heartily weary of it; 
but still the Continental System constrained him. " Duroc 
assured me," writes Bourrienne, 1 " that the emperor had 
more than once shown regret at being engaged in the Span- 
ish war; but since he had the English to fight there, no 
consideration could have induced him to abandon it, the 
more so as all that he was then doing was to defend the 
honor of the Continental System. . . . He said to Duroc 
one day, 'I no longer hold to Joseph being king of Spain, 
and he himself cares little about it. I would place there 
the first coiner, if he could close his ports to the English. ' " 
The military situation in Spain imperatively demanded his 
own presence; without it the war was interminable. The 
Spanish ulcer, as he himself aptly termed it, was drain- 
ing away both men and money ; and the seat of the trouble 
was at Lisbon, where the British sea power had at last 
found the place to set its fangs in his side and gnaw un- 
ceasingly. But Napoleon could not resolve either to with- 
draw from the contest or to superintend it in person. The 
Spaniards and Portuguese, in the prevailing anarchy, 
could contribute little, as consumers, to British commerce; 
whereas the north of Europe, from Holland to St. Peters- 
burg, while yielding a nominal acquiescence, everywhere 
evaded the blockades with the connivance of their govern- 
ments. Here, then, in his opinion, was the quarter to strike 

1 Memoires, vol. ix. pp. 21-24. 


Great Britain ; the Peninsula was to her but a drain of 
men and money, which the custom of northern and central 
Europe alone enabled her to endure. The emperor there- 
fore decided to sustain both efforts, the peninsular war 
and the northern continental blockade ; to divide his 
strength between the two, instead of combining it upon 
either; and to give his immediate attention to the North. 
Thus it was that the Sea Power of Great Britain, defying 
his efforts otherwise, forced him into the field of its own 
choosing, lured him, the great exemplar of concentrated 
effort, to scatter his forces, and led him along a path 
which at last gave no choice except retreat in discom- 
fiture or advance to certain ruin. 

Napoleon advanced. Since the Jena campaign he had 
occupied with French and Polish troops the fortresses of 
Glogau, Custrin, Stettin, and Dantzic. By these he con- 
trolled the Oder and the Vistula, and kept a constant rein 
upon Prussia, so as to exact the war indemnities she 
still owed, to check any movement upon her part, and to 
enforce the demands of his policy. Davout, the most 
severe and thorough of the French marshals, took command 
of these fortresses, as also of Hanover and of the Hanse 
towns, on which likewise imperial troops were quartered. 
At the mouth of the Ems his corps was in touch with that 
of Marshal Oudinot, which stretched thence along the 
frontiers of Holland to Belgium and Boulogne. Thus the 
whole sea-board from Boulogne to the Baltic was gripped 
by French divisions, which in any dispute or doubt pow- 
erfully supported the emperor's arguments and sustained 
the Continental System, both by actual interference and 
by the constant threat contained in their presence. These 
measures "were necessary," says M. Thiers, 1 "in order to 
compel the Hanse towns to renounce commercial inter- 
course with Great Britain, and to coerce Holland, which 
paid no more attention to the commercial blockade than 

1 Cons, et Empire (Forbes's Trans), xii. 15. 


if it had been governed by an English or a German prince. 
Even when the governments attempted to keep good faith 
the communities were little affected, and pursued a con- 
traband trade which the most vigorous measures failed to 
prevent. Napoleon determined to conduct in person this 
kind of warfare." 

Holland was the first victim. As has before been said, 
Louis Bonaparte strove continually to thwart the opera- 
tion of the system. Napoleon now demanded a strict 
execution of the blockade, and for that purpose that the 
guard of the Dutch coasts and of the mouths of the rivers 
should be entrusted to French custom-house officers. 1 
He also required that the American vessels which had 
entered Dutch ports under the king's permission should 
be confiscated. Louis, though willing to concede the 
former conditions and to exclude Americans and other 
neutrals thenceforward, could not bring himself to give 
up those that had entered under his own authority ; but, 
having been induced to visit his brother in Paris in No- 
vember, 1809, he was by threats and persuasion brought 
to yield every point demanded. It was during these in- 
terviews that Napoleon, giving way to one of those trans- 
ports of passion which increased with him as years went by, 
again betrayed the fatal compulsion under which England 
held him, and the purposes already forming in his mind. 
"It is the English," he cried, "who have forced me to 
aggrandize myself unceasingly. 2 But for them I would 
not have united Naples, Spain, Portugal to my empire. 
I have willed to struggle and to extend my coasts, in 
order to increase my resources. If they keep on, they 
will oblige me to join Holland to my shore lines, then the 
Hanse towns, finally Pomerania, and perhaps even Dant- 
zic." Then he suggested that Louis should, by indirect 
means, convey to the British cabinet the impending dan- 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. xx. p. 235. 

2 Compare Metternich's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 188. 


ger of Napoleon's proceeding to these extremities, in the 
hopes that apprehension might induce it to offer terms of 
peace, in order to avert the union of Holland to the 

A Dutch banker, M. Labouchere, who had extensive 
relations Avith prominent houses, was accordingly dis- 
patched, though without formal credentials, and opened 
the matter to the ministers; but the latter showed little 
interest. Whatever the nominal state of Holland, they 
said, it is really only a French dependency; and as for 
the extension of the Continental System, they expected 
no less than an increase of tyranny with the increase of 
the emperor's sway. Louis was then sent back to Holland, 
having further agreed to cede to France all his provinces 
west of the Rhine, and to line the coasts of the remainder 
with an army partly Dutch, partly French, but commanded 
by a French general. Overwhelmed with mortification, he 
cherished at times impotent thoughts of resistance, which 
issued only in insults to the French Charge and in impedi- 
ments thrown in the way of the French army of occupa- 
tion and the customs officers. Finally, in June, 1810, a 
body of French troops having presented themselves before 
Harlem were denied entrance ; and at about the same time 
a servant of the French embassy was mobbed at the 
Hague. Napoleon at once ordered Oudinot to enter, not 
only Harlem, but Amsterdam, with drums beating and 
colors flying, while the French corps to the north and 
south of Holland crossed the frontiers to support the 
army of occupation. On the first of July Louis signed 
his abdication, which was published on the 3d; by which 
time he had secretly left the kingdom for an unknown des- 
tination. On the 9th Holland was united to the empire 
by an imperial decree. The coveted American ships with 
their cargoes were sequestrated, and the large accumula- 
tions of colonial produce formed under Louis's lax block- 
ade were made to contribute to the imperial treasury, by 

VOL. II. — 21 


being admitted into France upon payment of a duty of 
fifty per cent. But, for this immediate benefit, the thrifty 
Hollanders were to pay by an unrelenting exclusion of 
trade, by the quartering of foreign troops, and by the 
conscription, both land and naval. 

The empire now extended to the Ems ; but still, with per- 
severing cunning, smugglers and neutrals contrived to in- 
troduce tropical produce and British manufactures to some 
extent. Owing to the restrictions, indeed, the goods rose 
from fifty to a hundred per cent over the London prices, 
but still they came ; and, in consequence at once of the 
British blockade of the French coast and of the emperor's 
jealous support of that blockade by his own decrees, the 
people of France had to pay far dearer than the other con- 
tinental nations. 1 Thus were Napoleon's objects doubly 
thwarted; for, while he aimed at breaking down Great 
Britain by exclusion from the rest of Europe, he also 
meant to make France, as the corner stone of his power, 
the most prosperous nation, and to secure for her the con- 
tinental market which her rival was to lose. 2 All foreign 
articles decreased in price in proportion as the distance 
from Paris increased. Before the union, coffee and sugar 
cost in his capital three and four times what they did in 
Holland. He now became unremitting and threatening 
in his representations to the Northern states. Exacting 
the last farthing of Prussia at one breath, with the next 
he offered to deduct from the debt the value of all licensed 
cargoes seized by her. He menaced Sweden with the 
reoccupation of Pomerania, if the great fleets under Brit- 
ish license were admitted to Stralsund. It was indeed to 
the Northern and Baltic ports that four fifths of the licensed 
vessels went ; only a small proportion sailed to the block- 
aded ports of France and Holland. 3 By dint of urgent 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., Book xxxviii. p. 182. 

2 Corr. de Nap., vol. xxi. p. 70 : " Mon principe est, La France avant 
tout." (Letter to viceroy of Italy. ) 

3 Pari. Debates, vol. xxi. p. 1050; xxiii. p. 540. 


representations and the presence of the French troops, he 
contrived to have seized the greater part of a convoy of 
six hundred sail, which entered the Baltic in the summer 
of 1810 ; but which, being delayed by head winds, had not 
reached their ports in time to escape the movements of his 
troops. The Northern trade had taken on immense di- 
mensions in 1809, when Napoleon was battling about 
Vienna and the governments were not under his eye ; but 
this year he could make himself felt, and some forty 
million dollars' worth of British property was seized in 
the northern ports. 1 The blow seriously affected the 
already overstrained commercial system of Great Britain, 
and its results were shown by the fall in the number of 
licenses issued, from eighteen thousand in 1810 to seventy- 
five hundred in 1811. 

The emperor went further. Deciding, after long con- 
sideration, that fifty per cent on the London prices repre- 
sented the profits of smugglers of colonial goods, he 
determined to allow the introduction of the latter upon 
payment of duty to that extent. Characteristically un- 
willing to appear to take a step backward, he extended 
this permission only to produce not coming from British 
colonies ; but it was understood, and officially intimated 
to the customs authorities, that the inquiry should not be 
rigorous. In this subterfuge, says M. Thiers, consisted 
the whole combination. 2 Having thus constituted a law- 
ful variety of colonial products in the empire and in the 
subject countries, the emperor felt at liberty to execute 
one of those vast confiscations, which contributed so 

1 Cobbett's Pari. Debates, vol. xxi. pp. 1056, 1117. 

2 The decree was also shrouded in secrecy, and its existence denied in the 
Moniteur (Cobbett's Pol. Register, xviii. p. 701). Napoleon wrote to the 
viceroy of Italy, Aug. 6, 1810 : " You will receive a decree which I have just 
issued to regulate duties on colonial produce. ... It is to be executed in 
Italy ; it is secret and to be kept in your hands. You will therefore give 
orders in pursuance of this decree only by ministerial letters." (Corr., vol. 
xxi. p. 28.) 


materially to his military chest. All collections of these 
goods existing within his reach were to be seized at the 
same time, and, if they had not been declared, should be 
condemned ; if they had, should pay half their value, in 
money or in kind. " Thus it was hoped to seize every- 
where at the same time, and to take for the treasury of 
Napoleon, or for that of his allies, the half in case of 
declaration, the whole in case of dissimulation. It can 
be conceived what terror would be caused to the numerous 
accomplices of British commerce. " l This measure was 
established by a decree of August 5, 1810, and accepted 
by all the continental states, except Russia. The latter 
refused to go beyond her obligations by the treaty of 
Tilsit, and took the occasion to express her uneasiness 
at seeing the French troops gradually extending along the 
northern seas, and even as close to her own borders as 
Dantzic. The impossibility of cordial co-operation in the 
immense sacrifices demanded by the Continental System 
was clearly shown by this refusal ; but by no less vigor- 
ous means could Great Britain be reached, and Napoleon 
could not recede. The decree was extended outside the 
boundaries of the empire, to any depot of colonial goods 
within four days' march of the frontiers, in Switzerland, 
in Germany, in Prussia, in the Hanse towns. Large 
sums of money were realized, and the government became 
a dealer in groceries when the payments were made in 
kind. The pressure of the French troops extended every- 
where, and French flotillas cruised along the coasts of the 
North Sea, whether within the limits of the empire or not, 
in the mouths and along the course of the great rivers, 
to seal them more completely. 

The decree of August 5 was carried out by the armed 
hand. " Wherever my troops are" wrote Napoleon to 
Prussia, "I suffer no English smuggling." On this 
ground French authorities executed the mandate in the 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Empire, Book xxxviii. pp. 181-189. 


Prussian port of Stettin, which was in the military occu- 
pation only of his troops. "All the ports of this once 
potent kingdom," says a contemporary magazine, "are 
filled with French soldiers, who seize and burn every 
article which can possibly have passed through British 
hands. Prussia is described as in a deplorable state, 
almost disorganized and no employment for industry." 1 
Similar action was taken in the Hanse towns with no 
other justification. The king of Westphalia was ordered 
to withdraw his army from the northern part of the king- 
dom, that French soldiers might enter for the same pur- 
pose. In Switzerland the native authorities were 
permitted to act, but a French customs officer supervised. 
On the 18th of August the emperor directed the military 
occupation of the territory of Lubeck, Lauenburg, Ham- 
burg, and all the west bank of the Elbe, for a length of 
fifty miles from its mouth; thence the line extended, at 
about the same distance from the sea, to Bremen, and 
thence to the frontiers of Holland, taking in the little 
states of Arenberg and Oldenburg. This military occupa- 
tion was but the precursor of the annexation of these 
countries a few months later, which led to the first overt 
act of displeasure on the part of the czar. In justification 
of the step, one of a series which alienated Alexander 
and led up to the Russian war, was alleged the purpose of 
sustaining the continental blockade as the only means of 
destroying Great Britain. " General Morand, " so read the 
orders, "is charged to take all necessary measures for 
the prevention of smuggling. For this purpose he will 
establish a first line of troops from Holstein to East- 
Frisia, and a second line in rear of the first." 2 

On the 6th of October the viceroy of Italy was directed 
to occupy with Italian troops all the Italian cantons of 
Switzerland, and to sequestrate at once all colonial or 

1 Monthly Magazine, Feb. 1811, vol. xxxi. p. 67. 

2 Corr de Nap., vol. xxi. p. 58. 


other contraband merchandise. The order was accom- 
panied with Napoleon's usual formula: "This ought to 
bring in several millions. " Eugene was to explain that 
this was only a step similar to the occupation of northern 
Germany, that it did not invade the neutrality of Switzer- 
land; and he was to be particularly careful that the 
emperor's hand did not appear. "That there should be 
a quarrel between you and Switzerland will do no harm." l 
On the 19th of October Prussia was notified that, if she 
did not efficiently preclude the passage of British and 
colonial merchandise through her states, the French army 
would enter them ; and the French minister was directed 
to leave Berlin if satisfaction was not given. 2 

Coincidently with these principal measures, the corres- 
pondence of Napoleon teems with orders, complaints, 
remonstrances, reprimands, queries, all showing how bent 
his mind was on the one purpose. Having turned over the 
command of the army in Portugal, directed against the 
British, to his ablest marshal, Massena, he was concen- 
trating his own energies on the blockade. At the same 
time, he occupied himself with stringent measures for 
protecting the industries of France in the European mar- 
ket. No man ever held more thoroughly than the emperor 
that element of the theory of protection, that the govern- 
ment can manage the business of the people better than 
themselves. His kingdom of Italy should not use Swiss 
nor German cottons; such goods must come only from 
France. 3 Italian raw silks shall go nowhere but to 
France, 4 and then only to Lyon. The whole export trade 
is in his hands by a system of licenses, 5 apparently bor- 
rowed from Great Britain, and which at this time he 
greatly extended. On the 25th of July an order was 
given that no ship could clear from a port of the empire 
for abroad without a license, signed by the emperor him- 

1 Corr. de Nap., vol. xxi. p. 224. 2 Ibid., p. 268. 

3 Ibid., p. 77. 4 Ibid., pp. 70, 71. s Ibid., pp. 61, 62. 


self. On September 15 another decree was issued, 1 allow- 
ing licensed vessels to sail from Hamburg, Bremen, and 
Lubeck for French ports. The license was to cost twelve 
dollars per ton, and was good only for the return voyage ; 
but the vessel upon arriving in France was exempt from 
all question as to search by British cruisers, and might 
even land all her cargo in a British port, — in other words, 
she was excepted from the Berlin and Milan decrees. She 
could not, however, enter France with any British goods. 
Returning, she was to load with wines or other French 
produce, except grain or flour. Under the rival license 
systems new and curious methods of evasion grew up. 
Compelled to take French articles which were not wanted 
in Great Britain, as well as those that were, the former 
were put on board of so inferior a quality that they could 
be thrown into the sea without loss. At either end smug- 
gling boats met the licensed vessel before entering port, 
and took from her forbidden articles. Ships of either 
nation, with foreign flag, and simulated papers, were to 
be seen in each other's ports. 2 The British, as a commer- 
cial people, were naturally willing to give a larger exten- 
sion to this evasive trade; but the emperor would not 
grant anything that he thought could help his enemy, 
even though it benefited his own people. He believed, and 
rightly, that Great Britain was receiving more harm than 
France ; he did not realize that, from her immense wealth 
and commercial aptitudes, she could endure the process 

The decree of August 5 admitted colonial goods, but 
excluded British manufactures. On the 19th of October 
was issued another edict, directing that all such manufac- 
tured goods, wherever found in the emperor's dominions, 

1 Cobbett's Pol Register, vol. xviii pp. 704, 722. 

2 At Bordeaux licensed vessels were known to take on board wines and 
brandies for the British army in Portugal. (Memoires du due de Rovigo, 
vol. v. p. 60.) 


or even in countries in the mere military occupation of 
his troops, should be publicly burned. This was remorse- 
lessly done. "Persons who at this epoch were living 
in the interior of France can form no idea of the desola- 
tion which so savage a measure spread through countries 
accustomed to live by commerce. What a spectacle of- 
fered to peoples impoverished and lacking everything, 
to see the burning of articles the distribution of which 
would have been an alleviation to their sufferings ! . . . 
What a means of attaching conquered peoples, to irritate 
their privations by the destruction of a number of articles 
of the first necessity ! " 1 " The tampering with the mails, " 
says Savary, the Minister of Police, "caused me to make 
some very sad reflections, and forced me to admit that we 
were not advancing toward tranquillity ; and that, if the 
party against us were not yet formed, at least all senti- 
ments were agreed, and that a single reverse would be 
enough to ruin us. . . . The more we disturbed the rela- 
tions of Europe with England, the more, on all sides, 
men sought to draw together ; and we remained with the 
odious epithets given to us by all those whom our measures 
thwarted." 2 "There was already an understanding from 
one end of Europe to the other; every cabinet earnestly 
wished the overthrow of Napoleon, as the people also 
wished, with at least equal ardor, a state of things less 
stifling for their industry and trade. Despite the terror 
inspired by Napoleon's name, there was, side by side with 
that terror, that damnable Continental System which set- 
tled the question; it was necessary either to fight or to 
succumb. The people of the North were under an im- 
perious necessity to break that yoke of lead, which made 
the custom house the prime agent of the governments of 
Europe." 3 

1 Bourrienne, Memoires, vol viii. p. 261. 

2 Memoires du due de Rovigo, vol. v. p. 66. 

3 Memoires de Bourrienne, vol. ix. p. 60. 


Russia had refused to accede to any steps beyond her 
engagements of Tilsit; but nowhere was discontent more 
profound, nowhere opposition more to be dreaded. While 
Napoleon was indisputably leading Great Britain into 
greater and greater embarrassment, by the depreciation of 
her manufactures and by the accumulations of unsalable 
sugars and coffees in her warehouses, he was also ruining 
the agriculture of Russia and the revenues of her nobles. 
Despite the relief afforded by the great licensed fleets, the 
Tilsit agreements so embarrassed trade, that hemp, which 
in 1802 was worth £32 the ton in London, had reached, 
in 1809, X118; 1 and other products of the North rose in 
the same proportion. At the same time sixty thousand 
tons of coffee lay in the London warehouses, unsalable 
at sixpence the pound, while the price on the Continent 
was from four to five shillings, and in places even seven 
shillings. 2 No better proof of the efficacious co-working 
of Napoleon's system and of the British Orders can be 
offered ; but the question was one of endurance. Which 
could stand such a strain longer ? In Russia matters 
were fast approaching a climax. The czar felt the ground 
trembling under his feet; 3 and, while he renewed his pro- 
testations of fidelity to Tilsit and Erfurt, he had to see 
Napoleon, by his licenses, evading the restrictions which 
he at the same time was pressing his ally to enforce more 
rigorously. In vain was the explanation offered that these 
licenses were but in furtherance of the restrictive system; 
that France was unloading her surplus products upon 
England, while refusing to receive aught but specie in 
return ; and that in consequence the exchange was going- 
more and more against Great Britain. The czar knew 
better; and the repeated and urgent letters of the emperor, 

1 Porter's Progress of the Nation, sect. iii. p. 205. In 1815, after Napo- 
leon's overthrow, the price fell to .£34. 

2 Tooke's Hist, of Prices, vol. i. p. 354. 

8 Souvenirs du due de Vicence, vol. i. p. 88. 


becoming, as was the wont of Napoleon's requests, rather 
peremptory than entreating, to seize and confiscate all 
neutral ships entering Russian ports, fell on deaf ears. 
Alexander feared war; but he remembered his father's 
fate, and feared assassination more. 

On the 10th of December, 1810, the emperor sent a 
message to the Senate announcing that he had annexed to 
the empire the Hanse towns, together with the region on 
the North Sea intervening between them and Holland, 
which had been as yet only in military occupation. In 
the same paper he expressed his intention of making a 
canal from the Elbe to Lubeck, by which the empire 
should be brought into direct water communication with 
the Baltic. This assurance was not calculated to ease the 
anxiety of the czar as to the eastward progress of France ; 
but the measure was accompanied by a circumstance of 
personal affront, peculiarly dangerous to an alliance 
which depended chiefly upon the personal relations of two 
absolute sovereigns. The Grand Duke of Oldenburg, one 
of the countries thus unceremoniously annexed, was uncle 
to the czar ; and though Napoleon proposed to indemnify 
him for the material loss, by territory taken in the 
interior of Germany, Alexander would not accept such 
satisfaction nor name any compensation that he would 
think adequate. He did not threaten war, but he refused 
to surrender his grievance, and reserved his right to retali- 
ate an injury. 

Meantime very serious results were developing, both in 
Great Britain and France, from the strained and abnor- 
mal conditions of commerce and the shocks caused by 
Napoleon's sudden and tremendous blows at credit, by 
his wide-spread confiscations, and by the Baltic seizures. 
The triple array of French troops that lined the shores 
of the Continent, re-enforced by the belt of British cruisers 
girding the coasts from the Ems to Bayonne, and from 
the Pyrenees to Orbitello, created a barrier which neither 


mercantile ingenuity nor popular want could longer evade 
to a degree that afforded any real measure of relief. The 
stolid, though as yet peaceable, measures of resistance 
taken by the United States had added seriously to the 
embarrassments of Great Britain, while rather furthering 
the policy of Napoleon, however contrary this was to the 
interests of France. During the years 1808 and 1809, 
the continuance of the embargo and of the non-intercourse 
acts, closing the North American market, coincided with 
the opening of the South American ; and a great rush was 
made by the British mercantile community for the latter, 
although it was not, by the number of the inhabitants, nor 
by their wealth, nor by their habits of life, at all able to 
take the place of the consumers lost in Europe and North 
America. The goods sent out in great quantities were 
injudiciously chosen, as well as far in excess of the pos- 
sible requirements ; so they remained unsold, and for the 
most part uncared for and unhoused, on the beach in 
South American ports. The judgment of men seemed to 
become unhinged amid the gloom and perplexity of the 
time, and the frantic desire of each to save himself in- 
creased the confusion. Mere movement, however aimless 
or dangerous, is less intolerable than passive waiting. 

The years 1809 and 1810 were consequently marked by 
an extensive movement in trade, which carried with it an 
appearance of prosperity in great part delusive. Immense 
imports were made from the Baltic, and from Italy, at the 
moment that Napoleon's coils were tightening around them ; 
Large shipments also to the North, to South America, and 
to the West Indies. In the United States only was there 
a transient period of solid transactions ; for in May, 1810, 
the Non-Intercourse Act expired by its own limitations. 
A proviso, however, was immediately enacted that if, 
before the 3d of March, 1811, either Great Britain or 
France should recall their decrees so far as they affected 
the United States, the Act should, within three months 


of the revocation, revive against the power that main- 
tained its edicts. Napoleon contrived to satisfy President 
Madison that his Berlin and Milan decrees were so re- 
called on the first of November ; but Great Britain refused 
to consider the terms of the withdrawal satisfactory, as in 
truth they were not. The Order in Council of April 26, 
1809, remained in force; and non-intercourse between the 
United States and Great Britain again obtained in Febru- 
ary, 1811, and continued to the outbreak of the war in 1812. 
Toward the end of 1810 the results of the various 
causes of trouble began to be heavily felt. Very scant 
returns coming from South America, the shippers were 
unable to discharge their debts to the manufacturers ; and 
the embarrassments of the latter were felt by their work- 
men. From the West Indies the returns came in tropical 
produce, which could be realized only on the Continent, 
long since partly and now effectually closed. A succes- 
sion of bad seasons had necessitated the importation of 
large quantities of grain from Holland and France, espe- 
cially in 1809, when an abundant harvest there, coinciding 
with a very bad crop in England, induced Napoleon to 
enter upon his license system, and to authorize an export 
which in three years drained £10,000,000 in specie from 
the enemy. The freights to the licensed carriers, mostly 
neutrals or hostile, at least in name, were also paid in 
specie, which was thus taken out of the country; and 
there was a further drain of gold for the maintenance of 
the fleets in distant parts of the world and for the war in 
Spain, which now took the place of the former subsidies 
to allies as a consumer of British treasure. Thus arose a 
scarcity of specie. In November, 1810, the bankruptcies 
were two hundred and seventy-three, against one hun- 
dred and thirty of the same month a year before. Stop- 
pages and compositions equalled in number half the traders 
of the kingdom. "The general failures have wonderfully 
affected manufactures, and want of confidence prevails be- 


tween manufacturer and merchant." A month later 
"bankruptcies continue to increase, and confidence is 
nearly at an end. Neither gold nor silver is often to be 
seen. The trade of the manufacturing towns is at stand ; 
and houses fail, not every day, but every hour. In the 
great seaports, the king's stores are full of all kinds of 
colonial produce which find no sale. Despondency is in- 
creased by the accounts from the Continent, which repre- 
sent all the seaports and internal depots of trade to be 
full of French soldiers, who seize and burn every article 
which can possibly have passed through British hands." 
As the shadows darkened, murmurs grew louder and louder 
against the once popular ] Orders in Council, to which all 
the evil was now attributed. The press changed its tone 
upon them, and a gradual agitation for their repeal grew 
up around the Opposition leaders ; who, from the moment 
they lost power, had never ceased to inveigh against the 
retaliatory system framed by the ministry. 

But while disaster was thus thickening about Great 
Britain, the case of France was worse. It was quite true, 
as the emperor said, that the people could live without 
sugar and coffee, and that necessity would in time find 
ways to produce many articles the import of which was 
denied her ; but such warped applications of her industry 
and ingenuity, even when finally realized, could neither 
replace the loss of her natural channels of effort nor for 
any length of time cope with a nation, which, however 
momentarily shaken by unprecedented conditions, yet 
kept power continually to renew her strength by contact, 
through the sea, with new sources. That Great Britain 
would do this, her traditions and the habits of her people 
were the pledge ; and the credit of the government bore 
witness to it through all. In the early part of 1811 a 

1 Both Monroe and Pinkney, while ministers in London, informed the 
United States government that the extreme measures taken were popular. 
(Am. State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 188, 206.) 


serious commercial crisis occurred in France, causing 
great anxiety to Napoleon. It was his particular wish to 
keep this corner-stone of the empire prosperous and con- 
tented under the immense demands made upon it for men, 
and the bitter sufferings entailed by the conscription. But 
prosperity was hard to secure with all the sea outlets of 
her manufactures and agriculture closed, with only a con- 
tinental market, and that impoverished by the universal 
cessation of trade and further enfeebled by the exhausting 
demands made upon the peoples to support the armies 
quartered upon them. The British blockade of the 
French, Dutch, and Italian coasts forbade absolutely, 
except to the limited license trade, the water carriage of 
raw materials essential to manufactures, and prevented the 
export of French luxuries. " The state of France as it fell 
under my observation in 1807," wrote an American trav- 
eller, "exhibited a very different perspective" from that 
of Great Britain. "The effects of the loss of external 
trade were everywhere visible, — in the commercial cities 
half-deserted, and reduced to a state of inaction and gloom 
truly deplorable; in the inland towns, in which the pop- 
ulace is eminently wretched, and where I saw not one in- 
dication of improvement, but on the contrary numbers of 
edifices falling to ruin; on the high roads, where the 
infrequency of vehicles and travellers denoted but too 
strongly the decrease of internal consumption, and the 
languor of internal trade; and among the inhabitants 
of the country, particularly of the South, whose misery is 
extreme, in consequence of the exorbitant taxes, and of 
the want of outlet for their surplus produce. In 1807 the 
number of mendicants in the inland towns was almost in- 
credible. . . . The fields were principally cultivated by 
women. " l 

1 Letter on the Genius and Disposition of the French Government ; by an 
American lately returned from Europe, pp. 189-192. Baltimore, 1810. See 
also Metternich's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 476, for the unhappiness of France. 


All the genius of Napoleon could not create demands 
when there was not means to gratify them, and the exqui- 
site products of French taste and skill labored under the 
same disadvantage as coffee and sugar, than which they 
were even less necessary ; men could dispense with them. 
Production, stimulated by an exaggerated protection, be- 
came for a time excessive and then ceased ; even the ex- 
clusion of British manufactures and the frequent burnings 
could not secure the continental market to articles, the 
raw materials for which were made so dear by the sea 
blockade, or by the long land carriage. Levant cotton 
made its weary way on horse and mule back, from Turke}% 
through Illyria, to Trieste, and thence was duly forwarded 
to France ; 1 but even so, when made into stuffs, found it- 
self in competition with British cottons which were landed 
in Salonica, conveyed on horses and mules through Ser- 
via and Hungary into Vienna, and thence distributed over 
Germany. 2 In the same manner was British colonial pro- 
duce introduced. Despite all Napoleon's efforts, smug- 
gling continued to compete with and undersell the fair 
trader, and his own licenses were used to evade his own 
decrees. 3 Many firms in Holland went out of business 
altogether, the factories of Lyon closed their doors, and 
several Paris huuses were in distress ; although, like the 
British warehouses, their stores were crowded with goods 
for which they could find no purchasers. Banks could 
not recover their advances, internal commerce fell into 
confusion, and general disaster followed. 

At the same time there was in France, as in Great 
Britain, much suffering from bad harvests, and this was 
aggravated for the former by the interruption of the coast- 

1 Memoires du due de Baguse, vol. iii. p. 423. Marmont adds : " This 
was a powerful help to French industry during that time of suffering and 

2 Tooke's History of Prices, vol. i. p. 311. 

3 Tn like manner, vessels with British licenses frequently slipped into 
French ports, especially with naval stores from the Baltic. 


ing trade by the British cruisers, and by the indifferent 
character of the inland roads, which, except when they 
served the military plans of the emperor, were neglected 
from the straitened state of the finances. The govern- 
ment came to the rescue with various measures of relief, 
necessarily partial and arbitrary ; designed rather to stave 
off immediate trouble than to afford a radical cure for 
existing difficulties. Yet serious remedies were needed; 
for the growing distress of the Continent must continue to 
react upon France, which found therein its only customers. 
In Holland almost all the former sources of wealth had 
one by one been cut off; and even money-lending, which 
survived the others, became a losing business from the 
wide-spread ruin in Europe. 1 In Russia the ruble had 
fallen to one third of the value it had before the institu- 
tion of the Continental System; although the czar had re- 
fused to impose upon his people and their commerce the 
decrees of August 5 and October 19, which Napoleon had 
forced upon other states. With growing poverty in Europe, 
the empire must grow poorer, and in proportion to its loss 
of wealth must be the diminution of the revenue. Yet al- 
ready the revenue was insufficient to the wants of the state, 
despite all the extraordinary resources which had been 
called up during the past year, and which could not again 
be expected. It was not to be hoped that many American 
ships would again place themselves within reach of the 
emperor's confiscations. The enormous seizures of colo- 
nial produce, made by surprise in the previous August, 
could not, to any similar extent, be repeated. The duty 
of fifty per cent, levied throughout the states occupied by 
his troops, on the coffee and sugar which was declared by 
the owners, had fallen upon accumulations made during 
the years of lax blockade and had brought in large sums ; 
but it now served only as an inducement to smuggling. 

1 " There was not a Dutchman," says M. Thiers, " who had not lost fifty 
per cent by foreign loans." (Cons, et Empire (Forbes's trans.), xii. 47.) 


Great ingenuity had been shown in devising extraordinary 
means for extracting money from the subject peoples, but 
every year saw these supplies diminishing. Like slavery, 
like bad farming, Napoleon's administration, and espe- 
cially his army, required continually new soil 1 and did 
little to renew or develop the powers which it taxed; 
beneficent plans were formed, multitudinous orders issued, 
but they received rare fulfilment except when they con- 
duced to the military efficiency of the state. 

There remained two resources. One was economy ; 
and the correspondence of Napoleon at this period teems 
with exhortations to his lieutenants, with denials of 
money, and with precepts to get all they can out of the 
annexed territories, and ask as little as possible from 
him. 2 The emperor held in reserve, subject only to his 
own orders, a great military treasure which had begun 
with war contributions, and into which poured the results 
of the extraordinary transactions just mentioned. Five 
wars had brought into this chest 805,000,000 francs; 
but in 1810 there remained but 354,000,000, and he 
was unwilling to trench further upon it, unless some 
grave emergency arose. He hoped to spare, if not to add 
to it, by the confiscation of the property of Spanish nobles 
who had resisted bis change of dynasty, as well as by the 
seizure of "false neutrals." Evidently, however, such 
resources are precarious, and cannot be compared to those 

1 " The emperor does desire war, because he needs more or less virgin 
soil to explore, because he has need to occupy his armies and to entertain 
them at the expense of others. . . . M. Romanzow has repeated to me a long 
conversation he had had with the emperor. 'He wants money,' said he, — 
'he does not hide it; he wishes war against Austria to procure it.'" (Met- 
ternich to Stadion, Feb. 17, 1809 ; Memoirs, ii. 329.) The Austrian war of 
1*09 brought $34,000,000 into Napoleon's military chest. (Thiers, Cons, et 
Emp., Book xxxviii. p. 34.) 

2 Thus to Davout, commanding the Army of Germany: "I shall need 
much money, which should make you feel the importance of obtaining for 
me as much as you can, and asking of me as little as possible." (Corr., March 
24, 1811.) 

vol. ii. — 22 


of a commercial state. Contrasted with Great Britain, 
the financial expedients of Napoleon resembled those of 
a mediaeval prince or an Oriental potentate; and in a 
strain of endurance, in a question of time, the very arti- 
ficial, not to say unnatural, framework of power which he 
had built could not hope to outlast the highly organized, 
essentially modern, and above all consistently developed 
society which confronted him. A state of long standing 
and fixed traditions may endure the evils of a bad system, 
disadvantaged by it, but not ruined ; but when the system 
is new and rests upon a single man, it asks in vain for 
the confidence inspired by a closely knit, yet wide-spread- 
ing, body politic whose established character guarantees 
the future. 

This was clearly shown in the ability of either govern- 
ment to use the other resource — borrowing — as a means 
to supplement its deficient income. Napoleon steadfastly 
refused to resort to this, alleging that it was an unjustifi- 
able draft upon the future, and could have but one result — 
bankruptcy. He proved easily that Great Britain could 
not go on borrowing indefinitely at her present rate. A 
better reason for his own abstinence was to be found in 
the condition of his credit. The public debt of France 
under his rule was small, and, as he did not add to it, it 
stood at a good figure in the market. 1 His military 
genius, the wide flight of his arms, the war contributions, 
the iniquitous plan by which he quartered his troops on 
foreign countries, not merely in war but in peace, and 
made them responsible for their maintenance, — measures 
such as these, facilitated by frequently recurrent wars 
and combined with exactions like those narrated in this 
chapter, enabled him to meet his expenditures, accumulate 
the large reserve fund mentioned, and at the same time 

1 This condition of the debt was partly factitious, Napoleon maintaining 
the public funds at eighty, by the secret intervention of the military chest. 
(Thiers, Cons, et Emp., Book xli. p. 18.) 


distribute in France an amount of coin which greatly 
aided the circulation. But his success imposed upon no 
one. Everybody understood that such expedients were 
essentially transient, that to renew them meant renewed 
wars, invasions growing ever wider and wider, and results 
dependent always upon military prestige, which a single 
lost battle might overthrow. Compared with insecurity 
such as this, the fast growing debt of Great Britain pos- 
sessed a relative solidity; which even exceeded the abso- 
lute confidence felt that the interest would be regularly 
paid. Behind her stood the history and the prestige of a 
Sea Power which men knew had met many a heavy 
reverse, yet had never failed; and which stood before 
Napoleon more mighty than ever. Far and wide, through 
many a sea and in many a land, stretched the roots of her 
strength ; never more glorious, because never more sorely 
tried than by the great emperor. She had credit, he 
had none. 

Savary, one of the most devoted of Napoleon's follow- 
ers, quotes with conviction the following words to him of 
a Parisian banker, in the early part of 1 811 : " A humili- 
ating fact, and one which gives the key to many others, is 
the state of credit in France and in England. The Eng- 
lish debt amounts to about 13,500,000,000, ours only to 
1250,000,000; and yet the English could borrow at need 
sums much more considerable than we ourselves could, and 
above all at an infinitely more favorable rate. Why this 
difference? Why is the credit of the State, in France, 
lower than the credit of the leading merchants and bank- 
ers ; while the reverse is the permanent condition in Eng- 
land? A word suffices to explain it: To restore one's 
credit in England, you have only to work with the gov- 
ernment; while to lose one's credit in France it is only 
necessary not to keep out of government transactions. 
All England is, so to say, a single commercial house, of 
which ministers are the directors, the laws the contract, 


which power itself cannot infringe. Here the Council of 
State usurps the powers of the tribunals, and I could al- 
most say that nothing useful is done, because nothing is 
really guaranteed. " 1 A competent American witness, be- 
fore quoted, who had spent two years in France, wrote, in 
1809 : " The French rulers, whatever may be their power, 
are unable to obtain supplies at home except by sacri- 
fices equivalent to the risk which is incurred by contracting 
with them. Their credit abroad may be estimated by the 
fact, which is so well known to us all, that no intelli- 
gent merchant in this country can be induced, by any 
consideration, to make advances in their favor, or to 
accept a bill on their treasury, from their highest ac- 
credited agent. " 2 

While the public credit, that touchstone of prosperity, 
stood thus in the two states, the same eye-witness thus 
describes the relative condition of the two peoples : " In 
France the extinction of all public spirit and of the influ- 
ence of public opinion, the depopulation and decay of the 
great towns, the stern dominion of a military police, in- 
cessantly checked the exultation, natural to the mind, on 
viewing the profusion of the bounties bestowed by nature. 
The pressure of the taxes was aggravated by the most 
oppressive rigor in the collection. The condition of the 
peasantry as to their food, clothing, and habitations bore 
no comparison with the state of the same class in Eng- 
land. . . . In England, whatever may be the representa- 
tions of those who, with little knowledge of the facts, 
affect to deplore her condition, it is nevertheless true 
that there does not exist, and never has existed else- 
where, so beautiful and perfect a model of public and 
private prosperity. ... I pay this just tribute of admira- 
tion with the more pleasure, as it is to me in the light of 
an atonement for the errors and prejudices under which 

1 Memoires du due de Kovigo, vol. v. p. 116. 

2 Genius and Disposition of French Govt. p. 166. Baltimore, 1810. 


1 labored on this subject, before I enjoyed the advantage 
of a personal experience. A residence of nearly two years 
in that country — during which period I visited and 
studied nearly every part of it, with no other view or 
purpose than that of obtaining correct information, and 
I may add, with previous studies well fitted to pro- 
mote my object — convinced me I had been egregiously 
deceived." 1 

The writer saw England before her sorest trial came. 
Since 1807, and especially after 1809, the condition of 
both nations had grown sensibly worse. The commercial 
embarrassments of Great Britain under the dislocation of 
her trade and the loss of her markets, occasioned partly 
by the Continental System and partly by the American 
Non-Intercourse Act, and aggravated by the wild specu- 
lations that followed the year 1808, resulted in 1811 in 
wide-spread disaster, — merchants failing, manufactories 
closing, workmen out of employment and starving. In 
France the commercial crisis of the same year, extending 
over the Continent, soon became a chaos of firms crashing 
one upon the other and dragging down, each the other, in 
its fall. 2 Soon great numbers of workmen in all the prov- 
inces found themselves, like their English brethren, de- 
prived of occupation. Council upon council was held by 
the emperor to ascertain how, by government interference, 
to remedy the ills for which governmental interference 
was immediately responsible. But, underneath the ap- 
parently similar conditions of distress in the two coun- 
tries, lay the real difference between a nation shut in, 
and thrown back upon itself, and one that kept open its 
communications with the world at large. In 1811 Great 
Britain had already begun to react through her natural 
channels ; the energies of her people under the load upon 
them had been like a strong spring, whose tension remains, 

1 Genius and Disposition of French Govt., pp. 181-192. 

2 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., Book xli. p. 22. 


though compressed. The South American trade revived ; 
the Spanish Main took off the accumulations in the West 
India Islands, and the latter in turn began to call for sup- 
plies from home; Russia was visibly relenting; in the 
Peninsula, Massena, whose progress had been stopped at 
the lines of Torres Vedras, was forced to retreat into 
Spain in the month of March, and through a liberated 
Portugal were found new openings for British commerce. 
For France there could be no return of prosperity until 
the sea was again free to her, either through her own or 
through neutral ships; but the latter could not safely re- 
pair to her ports until her rival revoked the still existing 
Order in Council, blockading the whole French and Dutch 
coast, and this she would not do before the emperor re- 
called the decrees upon which rested his Continental Sys- 
tem. And while Great Britain was making appalling 
drafts upon the future in her ever-mounting debt, France 
was exhausting a capital which no forcing power could 
replace, by her anticipated conscriptions, which led to a 
revolt far more menacing than the riots of English work- 
men. Sixty thousand " refractory " conscripts were scat- 
tered through the departments, and among the forests of 
western, central, and southern France, refusing to join 
their regiments and defying the authorities. They were 
pursued by flying columns of old soldiers ; who, often long 
strangers to their own countrymen, took with their prop- 
erty the same liberties they had practised in foreign parts. 
In January, 1811, the whole conscription for the year was 
called out, and in midsummer that for 1812 ; but no legal 
measures could make men of the boys sent to die before 
the virile age, 1 more often of exposure than by the hands 
of the enemy, in the gloomy mountains and parched 
plains of Spain. 

The great struggle of endurance, " of the highest in- 
dividual genius against the resources and institutions of 
1 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., Book xli. p. 11. 


a great nation " * who stayed its power on the sea, was 
now drawing near its close; the battle between the sea 
and the land was about to terminate in one of the most 
impressive and gigantic military catastrophes recorded by 
history. But the inevitable end was already clearly in- 
dicated before Napoleon started for Russia, although the 
dim vision of weary eyes in England, strained by long 
watching, saw not that which the apprehensions of 
Frenchmen, troubled with the anguish of France, trem- 
blingly felt. The credit of France was gone ; nor could 
her people bear any added burdens, until the sea, over 
which Great Britain still moved unresisted, was open to 
them. The people of the Continent had become bitterly 
hostile through the sufferings caused by the blockade, 
and the imperial power could only be maintained by an 
army which was itself filled by borrowing upon the future ; 
its capital, its reserve, was fast being exhausted. 2 The 
question of physical endurance was settled; the only 
point really left in doubt was that of moral endurance. 
Would Great Britain and the British government have 
the nerve to hold out till the emperor was exhausted ? " 3 
Already the agitation for the repeal of the Orders in 
Council, with which the existing ministry was identified, 
was becoming ominous. The leaders of the Opposition were 
opposed to the Peninsular war ; and Napier has vividly 
shown the doubts and hesitations of the ministry as to 
sustaining that great enterprise which compelled Napoleon 
to such waste of life, to such a fatal division of his force. 
Time was not allowed to test to the utmost British 

1 Arnold's History of Rome, opening of chap, xliii. 

2 It is interesting to observe in Metterniclfs letters, while ambassador 
at Paris, how he counts upon this exhausting of the capital of French 
soldiers as the ultimate solution of the subjection of Austria. "For some 
time Napoleon has lived on anticipations. The reserves are destroyed." 
(April 11, 1809.) Compare also his exclamation to the emperor in 1813: 
" I- Dot your present army anticipated by a generation 1 ? I have seen your 
soldiers; they are mere children." (Memoirs, vol. i. p. 189). 

8 See Metternich's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 477. 



tenacity; the darkest hour was fast passing away, the 
clouds began to break and the day to dawn. 

Three weeks after Napoleon's annexation of the Hanse 
towns and of the Duchy of Oldenburg, on the last day of 
the year 1810, Alexander put forth a commercial ukase 
which under all the circumstances had the appearance of 
retaliatory action ; and at the least drew a sharp line be- 
tween his commercial policy and the Continental System 
as inculcated by Napoleon. The decree expressly permitted 
the entrance of colonial produce under neutral flags ; and 
many articles of French manufacture were virtually denied 
admission, by not being included in a list of goods which 
could be introduced on payment of duty. In vain did the 
czar assert that his object was to develop, by protection, 
Russian manufactures of the excluded articles. Napoleon 
rejected the explanation. "The last ukase," he wrote in 
a personal letter to Alexander, " is at bottom, but yet more 
in form, specially directed against France." 1 But while 
the exclusion of French products was the most open, the 
admission of neutral ships with colonial produce was the 
most significant, feature of the edict. This was the point 
upon which the emperor had been most importunate ; here 
was the leak which, in his judgment, was sinking the 
ship. "Six hundred English merchant ships," he had 
written in a previous letter, October 23, 1810, 2 "wandering 
in the Baltic, have been refused admission to Prussian 
ports and those of Mecklenburg, and have steered for your 
Majesty's states. If you admit them the war still lasts. 
. . . Your Majesty knows that if you confiscate them 
we shall have peace. Whatever their papers, under what- 
ever names they are masked, French, German, Spanish, 
Danish, Russian, your Majesty may be sure they are 

Later, on the 4th of November, 3 Napoleon wrote through 

* Corr. de Nap., vol. xxi. p. 497 (Feb. 28, 1811). 2 Ibid., p. 275. 

8 Ibid., p. 296. 


the ordinary ministerial channels : " There are no neutrals. 
Whatever the papers produced, they are false. Not a 
single ship enters Russia with so-called American papers 
but comes really from England. 1 Peace or war is in the 
hands of Russia. Let her confiscate all ships brought in 
by the English, and join France in demanding of Sweden 
the seizure of the immense quantity of merchandise the 
English have landed at Gottenburg under various flags. 
If Russia wishes peace with England, she has here the 
means. But Russia has followed opposite principles, and 
of this but one proof need be given: that is, that the 
colonial merchandise which appeared at the last Leipzig 
fair was brought there by seven hundred wagons coming 
from Russia ; that to-day all the traffic in that merchan- 
dise is done through Russia; finally, that the twelve hun- 
dred ships which the English have convoyed by twenty 
ships of war, disguised under Swedish, Portuguese, 
Spanish, American flags, have in part landed their car- 
goes in Russia." To these complaints Alexander had 
replied that he had adhered, and would adhere, to his en- 
gagements and exclude British ships ; but that he would 
not, and could not, go beyond them and forbid neutrals. 
The ukase of December 31 took the matter out of diplo- 
matic discussion, and, coming so immediately upon the 
annexation of Oldenburg, had the appearance of defiance. 
As such Napoleon accepted it. "This seems," he wrote 

1 These contentions of Napoleon were for the most part perfectly correct. 
Some interesting facts, bearing upon the true character of the so-called 
neutral trade in the Baltic, may be gathered from Ross's Life of Saumarez, 
vol. ii. chaps, ix.-xiii. See also representations made by a number of Ameri- 
can ship-captains, Am. State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 329-333. On the other hand, 
the scrupulously upright John Quincy Adams, U. S. minister to Russia, 
affirmed that he positively knew some of the American ships to be direct 
from the United States. The facts, however, only show the dependence of 
the world at that time upon the Sea Power of Great Britain, which made 
Napoleon's Continental System impossible ; yet, on the other hand, it was his 
only means of reaching his enemy. If he advanced, he was ruined; if he 
receded, he failed. 


in the personal letter of February 28 above quoted, "a 
change of system. All Europe so regards it ; and already 
our alliance no longer exists, in the opinion of England 
and of Europe. ... If your Majesty abandons the alli- 
ance and burns the conventions of Tilsit, it would be evi- 
dent that war would follow a few months sooner or later. 
The result must be, on either side, to strain the resources 
of our empires in preparations. ... If your Majesty has 
not the purpose of reconciliation with England, you will 
see the necessity, for yourself and for me, of dissipating 
all these clouds." From that time both sovereigns pre- 
pared for war. 

The turn of affairs in the North at this time, and during 
the succeeding critical twelvemonth, was powerfully in- 
fluenced by the presence of a great British fleet in the 
Baltic and by the extreme discretion of its admiral. 
Napoleon had compelled Sweden to follow up her exclu- 
sion of British ships by a formal declaration of war, 
which was issued November 17, 1810. The British min- 
ister had to leave Stockholm; and, after his departure, 
the political as well as military direction of affairs on the 
spot was under the conduct of Sir James Saumarez. That 
most distinguished and admirable officer had thoroughly 
appreciated, during his three summers in the Baltic, the 
feelings of the Swedish rulers and people; and it was 
chiefly owing to his representations to his own govern- 
ment, and to his steadily conciliatory action, that the 
formal war never became actual. He resisted with dignity 
and firmness 'every attempt on the part of the Swed- 
ish authorities to carry out Napoleon's orders to confis- 
cate ; but he did not allow himself to be moved, by such 
occasional yielding on their part, to any act of retalia- 
tion. Good feeling between the two nations centred 
around his attractive personality, and facilitated the 
essential, but difficult, conciliation between Sweden and 
Russia. The entire license trade was under the protection 


of his fleet, which had charge also of the suppression of 
privateering, of the police of the hostile coasts, and of the 
interruption of communications between Denmark and 
Norway. 1 Its presence virtually insured the independence 
of Sweden against France and Russia, except during the 
winter months, when compelled to leave the Baltic ; and 
its numbers and character gave the Swedish government 
a sufficient excuse for not proceeding to the extremities 
demanded by Napoleon. During the summer of 1811 the 
flag-ship was the centre of the secret consultations which 
went on between the two states, to which Russia also, 
having finally rejected Napoleon's terms, soon became a 
party ; and towards the end of the season the negotiation, 
practically completed by the admiral, was formally con- 
cluded with a British plenipotentiary. It was determined 
to keep up the appearance of war, but with the under- 
standing that Sweden would join the alliance of Great 
Britain and Russia. The czar had then no cause to fear 
that, in the approaching contest with the great conqueror, 
he should find a hostile Sweden on his flank and rear. 2 

The preparations of Napoleon for the great Russian 
campaign occupied the year 1811. It was his intention 
to carry on a vigorous warfare in the Spanish peninsula, 
while collecting the immense forces of every kind needed 
in the north of Germany. But the unsatisfactory charac- 
ter of many of the soldiers gathering on the Elbe, among 
them being tens of thousands of refractory conscripts and 
foreign nationalities, compelled him to withdraw from 

1 During one year, 1809, this fleet captured 430 vessels, averaging sixty- 
tons each, of which 340 were Danes. Among these were between thirty and 
forty armed cutters and schooners, of which Denmark had to employ a great 
many to supply Norway with grain. The remaining ninety vessels were 
Russian. (Naval Chronicle, vol. xxii. p. 517.) 

2 " Once more I must tell you," wrote a Swedish statesman to Saumarez, 
" that you were the first cause that Russia dared to make war against France. 
Had you fired one shot when we declared war against England, all had been 
ended and Europe would have been enslaved." (Ross's Saumarez, vol. ii. 
p. 294.) 


Spain in the latter part of 1811 some forty thousand 
veterans, whose place was to be filled by levies of an in- 
ferior character, which, moreover, did not at once appear. 
The fortune of war in the Peninsula during the year had 
varied in different quarters. On the east coast General 
Suchet had brought Tortosa to capitulate on the 1st of 
January. Thence advancing to the south he reduced 
Tarragona by siege and assault on the 28th of June, — an 
exploit which obtained for him his grade of Marshal of 
France. Still moving forward, according to Napoleon's 
general plan and instructions to him, the end of the year 
found him before the city of Valencia, which surrendered 
on the 9th of January, 1812. But to obtain these later 
successes, at the time that so many hardened warriors 
were removed from the Peninsula, it had been necessary 
to support Suchet with divisions taken from the centre 
and west, to abandon the hope entertained of combining 
another great attempt against Lisbon, and also to with- 
draw Marmont's corps from the valley of the Tagus to a 
more northern position, around Salamanca and Valla- 
dolid. At this time Wellington occupied a line on the 
frontiers of Portugal, north of the Tagus, resting on the 
city of Almeida and facing Ciudad Rodrigo. The latter, 
with Badajoz, on the Guadiana, constituted the two sup- 
ports to the strong barrier by which the emperor proposed 
to check any offensive movements of the enemy upon 

The year had been passed by the British general in 
patient contention with the innumerable difficulties, 
political and military, of his situation. Masse'na had 
indeed been forced to withdraw from Portugal in April, 
but since that time Wellington had been balked, in every 
attempt, by superior numbers and by the strength of the 
positions opposed to him. His reward was now near at 
hand. On the 8th of January, 1812, he suddenly ap- 
peared before Ciudad Rodrigo, favored in his movements 


by the pre-occupation of Marmont, who was engaged in 
the reorganization and arrangements necessitated by the 
withdrawal of so many troops for the Russian war, and 
also deceived by the apparent inactivity in the British 
lines. The siege was pushed with a vigor that disre- 
garded the ordinary rules of war, and the place was suc- 
cessfully stormed on the 19th of January. As rapidly as 
the nature of the country, the season, and other difficulties 
would permit, Wellington moved to the south, intending 
to attack Badajoz. On the 16th of March the place was 
invested, and though most ably defended by a governor of 
unusual ability, it was snatched out of the hands of Mar- 
shal Soult by the same audacity and disregard of ordinary 
methods that had bereft Marmont of the sister fortress. 
Badajoz was stormed on the night of the 6th of April; 
and the Spanish frontier then lay open to the British, to 
be crossed as soon as their numbers, or the mistakes of 
the enemy, should justify the attempt. 

Thus opened the fatal year 1812. The clouds breaking 
away, though scarce yet perceptibly, for Great Britain, 
were gathering in threatening masses on the horizon of 
Napoleon. A painful picture is drawn by his eulogist, 
M. Thiers, of the internal state of the empire at this time. 
An excessively dry season had caused very short crops 
throughout Europe, and want had produced bread riots in 
England, as well as in France and elsewhere. But such 
demonstrations of popular fury were far more dangerous 
and significant, in a country where all expression of 
opinion had been so rigorously controlled as in the em- 
pire, and in a capital which concentrates and leads, as 
only Paris does, the feelings of a nation. The discontent 
was heightened and deepened by the miseries of the con- 
scription, which ate ever deeper and deeper, wringing the 
heart of every family, and becoming more and more ex- 
treme as each succeeding enterprise became vaster than 
those before it, and as the excessive demands, by reduc- 


ing the quality of the individual victims, required ever 
growing numbers. Six hundred thousand men had been 
poured into Spain, three hundred thousand of whom had 
died there. 1 Besides the immense masses carried forward 
to the confines of Poland, and those destined for the Penin- 
sula, there was to be a powerful reserve between the Elbe 
and the Rhine, another behind the Rhine in France itself, 
and to these Napoleon now proposed to add yet a third, of 
one hundred and twenty thousand so-called national 
guards, taken from the conscription of the four last years 
and legally not liable to the call. Throughout the great 
cities there was growing irritation, rising frequently to 
mutiny, with loud popular outcries, and again the number 
of refractory conscripts, of whom forty thousand had been 
arrested the year before, rose to fifty thousand; again 
flying columns pursued them through all the departments. 
Caught, shut up in the islands off the coasts, whence they 
could not escape, and, when drilled, marched under strong 
guard to the ends of Europe, they none the less contrived 
often to desert; and everywhere the people, hating the 
emperor, received them with open arms and passed them 
back, from hand to hand, to their homes. Thus amid 
starvation, misery, weeping, and violence, the time drew 
near for Napoleon to complete his great military under- 
taking of conquering the sea by the land. 

In the North the situation had finally developed 
according to the wishes of Great Britain. The secret 
understanding of 1811 had resulted in January, 1812, in 
another commercial ukase, allowing many British manufac- 
tures to be introduced into Russia. On the 5th of April 
a secret treaty was concluded with Sweden, ceding Fin- 
land to Russia, but assuring to the former power Norway, 
of which Denmark was to be deprived. Relieved now on 
her northern flank, Russia soon after made peace with 
Turkey under the mediation of Great Britain. Thus with 
both hands freed she awaited the oncoming of Napoleon. 

1 Thiers, Cons, et Emp., Book xlii. p. 383. 


On the 9th of May, 1812, the emperor left Paris to take 
command of his forces in Poland ; and on the 24th of June 
the imperial army, to the number of four hundred thou- 
sand men, crossed the Niemen and entered Russia. Two 
hundred thousand more followed close behind. The pre- 
ceding day, June 23, the British Orders in Council of 
1807 and 1809 were revoked, as to the United States of 
America. It was too late. War had been declared by 
Congress, and the declaration approved by the President, 
five days before, on the 18th of June, 1812. 

In narrating the extraordinaiw, and indeed unparal- 
leled, series of events which reach their climax in the 
Berlin and Milan Decrees and the Orders in Council, the 
aim has been to compress the story within the closest limits 
consistent with clearness, and at the same time to indi- 
cate the mutual connection of the links in the chain ; how 
one step led to another; and how throughout the whole, 
amid apparent inconsistencies, there is an identity of 
characteristics, not impossible to trace, from the outbreak 
of the Revolution to the downfall of Napoleon. To do this 
it has been thought expedient to suppress a mass of details, 
much of a very interesting character, bearing upon the 
working of the two opposing systems. The influence of 
the military element of Sea Power, the function of the 
British navy, after Trafalgar, has also been passed over in 
silence. When that great disaster wrecked Napoleon's 
naval hopes, and convinced him that not for many years 
could he possibly gather the ships and train the seamen 
necessary to meet his enemy in battle upon the ocean, he 
seized with his usual sagacity the one only remaining 
means of ruining her, and upon that concentrated his 
great energies. The history of Europe and of the civilized 
world, after 1805, turned upon this determination to de- 
stroy Great Britain through her commerce; and the de- 
cision was forced upon the mighty emperor by the power 


of the British navy, and the wise resolve of the government 
not to expose her land forces to his blows, until peculiarly 
favorable circumstances should justify so doing. The op- 
portunity came with the Spanish uprising; and, by one of 
those coincidences not uncommon in history, with the 
hour came the man. The situation was indeed of the most 
favorable for Great Britain. The theatre of war, sur- 
rounded on three sides by water, was for the French a 
salient thrust far out into the enemy's domain on the sea, 
while its interior features and the political character of 
the people, incapable of cohesion and organized effort, 
made the struggle one eminently alien to the emperor's 
genius; for it gave no opportunity for those brilliant com- 
binations and lightning-like blows in which he delighted. 
To the British the Peninsula offered the advantage that 
the whole coast line was a base of operations ; while every 
friendly port was a bridge-head by which to penetrate, or 
upon which, in case of reverse, to retire, with a sure re- 
treat in the sea beyond. 

The course pursued by each of the two governments, in 
this great enterprise of commerce-destroying, may be 
looked at from the two points of view, of policy and of 

In the matter of policy, both Napoleon's decrees and the 
Orders in Council have been fiercely assailed and exten- 
sively argued. In so broad and complicated a subject, a 
probable conclusion can only be reached by disregarding 
the mass of details, of statistics, with which the dispu- 
tants have rather obscured than elucidated the subject, 
and by seeking the underlying principle which guided, or 
should have guided, either government. It is possible to 
form a very strong argument, for or against either, by 
fastening upon the inevitable inconveniences entailed 
upon each nation by the measures of its adversary and by 
its own course. It is by impressions received from these 
incidents — or accidents — the accompaniments rather 


than the essentials of the two systems, that the debates 
of Parliament and the conclusions of historians have been 

As the combined tendency of the two policies, fully 
carried out, was to destroy neutral trade in Europe, the 
preponderance of injury must fall upon the nation which 
most needed the concurrence of the neutral carrier. 
That nation unquestionably was France. 1 Even in peace, 
as before stated, much more than half her trade was done 
in neutral bottoms; the war left her wholly dependent 
upon them. Alike to export and to import she must have 
free admission of neutral ships to her ports. Prior to the 
Berlin decree the British made no pretence to stop this ; 
but they did, by reviving in 1804 the Rule of 1756, and 
by Fox's decree of May, 180G, blockading the coast from 
Brest to the Elbe, betray an apprehension of the result to 
themselves of the neutral trade with France. This should 
have put the emperor upon his guard. The very anxieties 
shown by a people of such mercantile aptitudes should 
have been most seriously regarded, as betraying where 
their immediate danger lay. The American market was 
a most important benefit to them, but American merchant 
ships threatened to be a yet more important injury. These 
having, under the circumstances of the war, a practical 
monopoly of carrying West India produce which exceeded 
in quality and quantity that of the British Islands, were 
underselling the latter on the Continent. The ill effect 
of this was partially obviated by the Rule of 1756; but 
there remained the fear that they would absorb, and be 
absorbed by, the commerce of the Continent; that to it, 
and to it alone, they would carry both articles of consump- 
tion and raw materials for manufacture ; and that from it, 
and from it alone, they would take away manufactured 
articles with which Great Britain up to the present time 

1 Compare Metternich's argument with the French Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, October, 1807. (Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 161.) 
VOL. II. — 23 


had supplied them, — and, through them, large tracts of 
Spanish America. 

Up to 1804 the course of trade had been for American 
ships to load for continental ports, receive there the 
greater part of the payment for their cargoes in bills of 
exchange on the Continent, and with these to go to British 
ports and pay for British manufactures, with which they 
completed their lading. If, on the other hand, they went 
from home direct to Great Britain, the cargoes they car- 
ried were in excess of British consumption, and so far 
were profitable to Great Britain chiefly as to a middleman, 
who re-exported them to the Continent. But, when Pitt 
returned to power, this course of trade was being sensibly 
modified. American ships were going more and more 
direct to the Continent, there completing their cargoes and 
sailing direct for home. Continental manufactures were 
supplanting British, though not in all kinds, because the 
American carrier found it more profitable to take them as 
his return freight; just as the produce of continental 
colonies was, through the same medium, cutting under 
British coffees, sugars, and other tropical products. 
British merchants were alarmed because, not only their 
merchant shipping, but the trade it carried was being 
taken away; and British statesmen saw, in the decay of 
their commerce, the fall of the British navy which 
depended upon it. 

It was plainly the policy of Napoleon to further a 
change which of itself was naturally growing, and which 
yet depended wholly upon the neutral carrier. The latter 
was the key of the position ; he was, while war lasted, essen- 
tially the enemy of Great Britain, who needed him little, 
and the friend of France, who needed him much. Truth 
would have justified England in saying, as she felt, that 
every neutral was more or less serving France. But in 
so doing the neutral was protected by the conventions of 
international law and precedent, which the British mind 


instinctively reveres, and for violating which it must 
have an excuse. This the emperor, whose genius inclined 
essentially to aggressive and violent action, promptly 
afforded. Overlooking the evident tendency of events, 
unmindful of the experience of 1798, he chose to regard 
the order of blockade of May, 1806, as a challenge, and 
issued the Berlin decree, which he was powerless to carry 
out unless the neutral ship came into a port under his 
control. He thus drove the latter away, lost its services, 
and gave Great Britain the excuse she was seeking for 
still further limiting its sphere of action, under the plea 
of retaliation upon France and her associates. And a 
most real retaliation it was. Opposition orators might 
harp on the definition of the word, and carp at the method 
as striking neutrals and not the enemy. Like Napoleon, 
they blinked at the fundamental fact that, while Great 
Britain ruled the sea, the neutral was the ally of her 

The same simple principle vindicates the policy of the 
British ministry. Folios of argument and oratory have 
been produced to show the harm suffered by Great Britain 
in this battle over Commerce. Undoubtedly she suffered, 
— perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say she 
nearly died; but when two combatants enter the lists, not 
for a chivalric parade but for life and death, it is not the 
incidental injuries, but the preponderance of harm done 
and the relative endurance, which determine the issue. 
To the same test of principle must be referred the mis- 
takes in details charged against British ministries. 
Military wr iters say that, when the right strategic line 
of effort is chosen, mistakes of detail are comparatively 
harmless, and even a lost battle is not fatal. When 
France decided, practically, to suppress the concurrence 
of the neutral carrier, she made a strategic blunder; and 
when Great Britain took advantage of the mistake, she 
achieved a strategic success, which became a triumph. 


As regards the rightfulness of the action of the two 
parties, viewed separately from their policy, opinions 
will probably always differ, according to the authority 
attributed by individuals to the dicta of International 
Law. It may be admitted at once that neither Napoleon's 
decrees nor the British orders can be justified at that bar, 
except by the simple plea of self-preservation,— the first 
law of states even more than of men ; for no government 
is empowered to assent to that last sacrifice, which the 
individual may make for the noblest motives. The benefi- 
cent influence of the mass of conventions known as 
International Law is indisputable, nor should its author- 
ity be lightly undermined ; but it cannot prevent the in- 
terests of belligerents and neutrals from clashing, nor 
speak with perfect clearness in all cases where they do. 
Of this the Rule of 1756 offered, in its day, a conspicuous 
instance. The belligerent claimed that the neutral, by 
covering with his flag a trade previously the monopoly of 
the enemy, not only inflicted a grave injury by snatching 
from him a lawful prey, but was guilty likewise of a 
breach of neutrality; the neutral contended that the 
enemy had a right to change his commercial regulations, 
in war as well as in peace. To the author, though an 
American, the belligerent argument seems the stronger; 
nor was the laudable desire of the neutral for gain a 
nobler motive than the solicitude, about their national 
resources, of men who rightly believed themselves engaged 
in a struggle for national existence. The measure meted 
to Austria and Prussia was an ominous indication of the 
fate Great Britain might expect, if her strength failed 
her. But, whatever the decision of our older and milder 
civilization on the merits of the particular question, there 
can be no doubt of the passionate earnestness of the two 
disputants in their day, nor of the conviction of right 
held by either. In such a dilemma, the last answer of 
International Law has to be that every state is the final 


judge as to whether it should or should not make war; 
to its own self alone is it responsible for the rightful- 
ness of this action. If, however, the condition of injury 
entailed by the neutral's course is such as to justify war, 
it justifies all lesser means of control. The question of 
the rightfulness of these disappears, and that of policy 
alone remains. 

It is the business of the neutral, by his prepared condi- 
tion, to make impolitic that which he claims is also 
wrong. The neutral which fails to do so, which leaves 
its ports defenceless and its navy stunted until the emer- 
gency comes, will then find, as the United States found 
in the early years of this century, an admirable oppor- 
tunity to write State Papers. 


Summary. — The Function of Sea Power and the Policy of 
Great Britain in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic 

THE outbreak of the French Revolutionary War found 
Great Britain unprepared. For nearly ten years 
her course had been directed by the seconi Pitt, who, 
though inheriting the lofty spirit and indomitable con- 
stancy of his father, yet loved peace rather than war, and 
sought the greatness and prosperity of his country through 
the development of her commerce and manufactures and 
the skilful management of her finances. He strove also 
consistently for the reduction of expenditure, including 
that for the military, and even for the naval establishment. 
As late as February 17, 1792, when the Revolution had 
already been nearly three years in progress and France 
was on the eve of declaring war against Prussia and Aus- 
tria, he avowed his expectation of many years of peace 
for the British empire; and the estimates provided for 
only sixteen thousand seamen and marines. "Unques- 
tionably,*' said he, "there never was a time in the history 
of this country, when, from the situation of Europe, we 
might more reasonably expect fifteen years of peace than 
at the present moment. " When the war with Germany 
began, Great Britain proclaimed and steadily maintained 
an attitude of neutrality ; and the Minister asserted over 
and over again, to France and to her enemies, the inten- 
tion not to interfere with the internal affairs of that 
country. This purpose continued unshaken through the 
tremendous events of the succeeding summer and autumn ; 


through the assaults on the Tuileries on June 20 and 
August 10, through the suspension of the king which 
immediately followed the latter date, through the revolt- 
ing massacres of September, finally through the deposi- 
tion of the King and the proclamation of the Republic. 
Doubtless these events gave a series of shocks to public 
opinion in Great Britain, alienating the friends and em- 
bittering the enemies of the Revolution ; doubtless what- 
ever sympathy with the French advance towards freedom 
the ministers felt was chilled and repelled by the excesses 
and anarchy which marked its steps; but, whatever their 
personal feelings, no indication appears, either in their 
public actions or in their private correspondence as since 
revealed, of any intention to depart from a strict, even 
though cold, neutrality, until near the end of the year 

The leaders of the party in France, which at this time 
was exerting the greatest influence upon the course of 
the Revolution, had long favored war with foreign 
nations, as the surest means to destroy the monarchy and 
unite public feeling in favor of the Republic and of the 
Revolution. The course of events had justified their 
forecast. Prussia and Austria had given provocation; 
and, although the latter at least would not have pro- 
ceeded to extremes, war had been proclaimed and the 
fall of the monarchy had followed. There was, however, 
one nation with which the revolutionists imagined them- 
selves to be in sympathy, and which they thought also as 
a whole sympathized with them. That nation was the 
English; between England and France there was to be 
friendship, and concurrence of effort to a common end. 
Herein the French leaders fatally misconceived the char- 
acter of English freedom, and the nature of its successive 
advances to the conditions in which it then stood, and 
through which Englishmen hoped for yet further enlarge- 
ment. Reverence for the past, and, in the main, for the 


existing order of things ; profound regard for law and for 
an orderly method of making needful changes; a con- 
stant reference to the old rights and customs of the Eng- 
lish people ; respect for vested rights, for agreements, for 
treaties, — such were the checks which had modified and 
controlled the actions of the English, even when most 
profoundly moved. The spirit which dominated the 
French Revolution was that of destruction. The stand- 
ard, by which all things human were to be tried, was a 
declaration of human rights put forth by its leaders, 
which contained indeed many noble, true, and most 
essential principles; but, if aught existing did not at 
once square with those principles, the forces of the 
Revolution were to advance against it and sweep it from 
the face of the earth. No respect for the past, no exis- 
tent prescriptive rights, no treaties that seemed contrary 
to natural rights, were to control the actions of the 
revolutionists. They were to destroy, and to rebuild 
from the foundation, according to their own interpreta- 
tion of what justice demanded. 

The courses and aims, therefore, of the two nations 
were wholly divergent, and, as these were but the expres- 
sion in either case of the national temper, the hope of 
sympathy and concurrence was delusive; but it was a 
natural delusion, fostered in the hearts of the sanguine 
Frenchmen by the utterances of many warm-hearted 
friends of freedom in the rival nation, and by the more 
violent words of a limited number of revolutionary 
societies. The former of these were, however, quickly 
alienated by the atrocities which began to stain the 
progress of the Revolution; while the latter, being sup- 
posed by the French leaders to represent the feeling of 
the British nation, as distinguished from its Government, 
contributed to draw them further in that path of reckless 
enmity to existing institutions which led to the war with 
Great Britain. 


Still, so long as the exponents of French public feeling 
confined themselves to violent and irregular action within 
their own borders, and to declamations, which did not go 
beyond words, against the governments and institutions 
of other nations, the British ministry remained quiet, 
though watchful. There are extant private letters, writ- 
ten in the early part of November, 1792, by the Prime 
Minister, and by his relative, Lord Grenville, the Minis- 
ter of Foreign Affairs, which indicate that they rejoiced 
in having maintained the neutrality of Great Britain, and 
that they looked forward to its continuance, though with 
anxiety. But on the 19th of that month the National 
Convention, which then comprised within itself both the 
executive and legislative functions of the French Govern- 
ment, adopted a declaration that it would grant fraternity 
and succor to all people who should wish to recover their 
liberty; 1 and it charged administrative officers to give 
republican generals the necessary orders to carry help 
to those people and to defend their citizens who had been 
molested, or who might be subject to molestation, on 
account of their devotion to the cause of liberty. As 
if further to emphasize the scope of this decree, for such 
in effect it was, it was ordered to be translated and 
printed in all languages. 

By this official action the French Government had 
taken a great and important step, radically modifying its 
relations to all other states. The decree did not men- 
tion the governments with which France was then at war, 
limiting to their people the application of its terms. On 
the contrary, when a member of the Convention, a month 
later, proposed to insert words which should restrict its 
operation to those peoples " against whose tyrants France 
was, or should hereafter be, at war," and gave, as his 
reason, to remove the uneasiness of Great Britain, the 
motion found no support. The previous question was 

1 Annual Register, 1792; State Papers, p. 355. 


moved, and the Convention passed on to other busi- 
ness. 1 

The men who then wielded the power of France had 
thus gone beyond a simple inveighing against other gov- 
ernments, and the mere use of words calculated to excite 
discontent among the people of other states, and had 
announced an intention to interfere forcibly in their in- 
ternal affairs whenever called upon to do so by citizens 
who, in the opinion of the French Government, were de- 
prived of their just liberty or molested in their efforts to 
recover it. The anarchist of our own day, who contents 
himself with verbally attacking existing laws and institu- 
tions, however vehemently, may remain untouched so long 
as he confines himself to the expression and advocacy of his 
opinions ; but when he incites others to action in order to 
carry out his ideas, he is held responsible for the effect of 
his words; and when he takes measures leading to vio- 
lence, he is open to arrest and punishment. Such as this, 
among governments, was the step taken by France in 
November, 1792. She not only incited the citizens of 
other states to rebellion, but announced her intention of 
supporting them, and gave to her generals the necessary 
orders for carrying that purpose into effect. 

Meanwhile the Austrian Netherlands was rapidly over- 
run and annexed to the French Republic, which thus 
abandoned the lofty posture of disinterestedness, and the 
disclaimers of all desire for conquest which the leaders of 
the Revolution had made from the tribune of the Conven- 
tion. Soon after followed a decree declaring the naviga- 
tion of the Scheldt, the great artery of Belgium, open to 
the sea. This set aside, without negotiation, the com- 
pacts of the previous owners of the Netherlands, by which 
the navigation of the river from the sea was reserved to 
Holland, within whose territory the mouth lay, — an 
agreement consecrated by renewed treaties, and which, 

1 Moniteur, Dec. 25, 1792 , Proposition of M. Barailon. 



by Ion- standing, had become part of the public law of 
Europe The act strikingly showed the determination of 
the French leaders to disregard treaties which conflicted 
with their construction of the natural rights of man; for 
they were at peace with Holland, yet made no attempt to 
obtain their end by negotiation. 

The interests and the peace of Great Britain were now 
seriously threatened. For over a century her statesmen 
had held, and held rightly, that the possession of Belgium 
by France was incompatible with her security. They had 
supported the legal, though iniquitous, claim of the 
Dutch to the exclusive navigation of the Scheldt; and, 
above all, the country was bound by a treaty of alliance 
to defend Holland, whose rights as defined by treaty had 
been rudelv set aside by France. Moreover, on the 28th 
of November deputations from the British revolutionary 
societies were received at the bar of the Convention and 
the President of the latter, in reply to their address, 
made a speech strongly hostile to the British Government, 
affecting to distinguish between it and the people over 
whom it ruled; a pretence which was equally maintained 
in the United States of America, where the French minis- 
ter the following year dared to appeal openly to the 
people against the policy of their government. 

On the 1st of December the British Government issued 
a proclamation, calling out the militia on account of 
seditions and insurrectionary movements dangerous to 
the state, and at the same time, as required by law, sum- 
moned Parliament to meet on the 15th The hopes 
and the patience of Pitt were alike exhausted ; and 
although he still continued to listen to any overtures 
that contained a promise of peace, he had determined to 
exact guarantees, amounting to more than words, which 
should assure the safety of Great Britain and her ally, 
Holland. Meantime the British forces should be organ- 
ized and got ready to act. The French Government had 


proclaimed its intention of interfering in the affairs and 
overthrowing the institutions of all states, when, in its 
judgment, their citizens were molested in their efforts 
for freedom. To await supinely the moment when it 
should please France to act would be the decision of 
folly; nor was it possible, for one imbued with English 
traditions, to view without distrust a government which 
appeared to look for justice by disregarding law, and 
avowedly disowned existing compacts and treaties in 
favor of a speculative somewhat called the Rights of Man, 
concerning which, its own passions being the judge, 
revelations as numerous might be expected as were 
vouchsafed to Mahomet. 

There are some who can only account for the different 
lines of action followed by Pitt, before and after 1792, in 
both cases with the indomitable tenacity of his race and 
lineage, by conceiving two entirely different personalities 
in the same man, — a sudden and portentous change, un- 
precedented save by miracle as in the case of St. Paul. 
More truly may be seen in him the same man acting 
under circumstances wholly different, and in the later 
instance unforeseen. It was not given to Pitt to read 
the future of the French Revolution with the prophetic 
eye of Burke. He had the genius, not of the seer, but of 
the man of affairs ; but that he had the latter in an emi- 
nent degree is evident from the very rapidity of the 
change, when he was at last forced to the conviction that 
external conditions were wholly changed. He was at 
heart the minister of peace, the financier, the promoter 
of commerce and of gradual and healthy reforms ; but in 
a great speech, delivered before he had begun to fear that 
peace would end in his time, he impressed upon his hear- 
ers his own profound conviction that all the blessings 
which England then enjoyed rested upon the union of 
liberty with law. Having enumerated the material cir- 


cumstanccs to which the existing prosperity of the nation 
was to be ascribed, he continued : — ■ 

"But these are connected with others more important. 
They are obviously and necessarily connected with the dura- 
tion of peace, the continuance of which, on a secure and 
durable footing, must ever be the first object of the foreign 
policy of this country. They are connected still more with 
its internal tranquillity, and with the natural effects of a free 
but well-regulated government. . . . This is the great and 
governing cause, the operation of which has given scope to 
all the other circumstances which I have enumerated. It is 
the union of liberty with law, which, by raising a barrier 
equally firm against the encroachments of power and the 
violence of popular commotion, affords to property its just 
security, produces the exertion of genius and labor, the extent 
and solidity of credit, the circulation and increase of capital ; 
which forms and upholds the national character and sets in 
motion all the springs which actuate the great mass of the 
community through all its various descriptions. ... On this 
point, therefore, let us principally fix our attention ; let us 
preserve this first and most essential object, and every other 
is in our power." 1 

It was perfectly consistent with this position that, 
when Pitt saw a neighboring state in convulsions from 
the struggle of a turbulent minority for liberty without 
law; when that state had not only proclaimed its pur- 
pose, but taken steps to promote a similar condition in 
other nations; when societies representing a small, but 
active and radical, minority in England were openly 
fraternizing with France; when the great leader of the 
English Opposition had, from his seat in Parliament, 
praised the French soldiery for joining the mobs, — it was 
perfectly consistent with his past that Pitt should oppose 
with all his powers a course of action which not only 
endangered the internal peace upon which the prosperity 

1 Pitt's Speeches, vol. ii. pp. 46, 47. 


of England rested, but also carried into the realm of 
international relations the same disorganizing principles, 
the same disregard for law, covenant, and vested right 
that had reduced France to her then pitiful condition. 
Not only Great Britain, but the European world was 
threatened with subversion. That Pitt did not bewail 
aloud the wreck of his hopes, the frustration of his 
career, the diversion of his energies from the path that 
was dearest to him, shows the strength, not the instability, 
of the man. That he laid aside the reforms he had pro- 
jected, and discouraged all movements towards inter- 
nal change, which, by dividing the wills of the people, 
might weaken their power for external action, proves but 
that concentration of purpose which, sacrificing present 
gratification to future good, achieves great ends. Never 
does the trained seaman appear greater, has well said the 
naval novelist Cooper, than when, confronted with un- 
expected peril, he turns all his energies from the path in 
which they were before directed, to meet the new danger. 
"Never," writes Lanfrey of the critical period between 
Essling and Wagram, "had the maxim of sacrificing the 
accessory to the principal, of which Napoleon's military 
conceptions afford so many admirable examples, and which 
is true in every art, been applied with more activity and 
fitness. . . . The complications which he most feared 
were to him, for the moment, as though they did not 
exist. No secondary event had power to draw him off 
from the great task he had primarily assigned to him- 
self. " 1 All instinctively recognize the courage as well as 
the wisdom of this conduct in the dangers which the sea- 
man and the soldier are called to meet; why deny its 
application to the no less urgent, and at times more 
momentous, issues presented to the statesman ? If, as 
may fairly be claimed, it is to the maritime power of 
Great Britain that Europe owes the arrest of a subversive 

1 Lanfrey's Napoleon, vol. iv. p. 112 (Eng. trans., ed. 1S86). 


revolution, if to that maritime power is due that a 
great, irresistible, and beneficent movement toward the 
liberty and welfare of the masses survived a convulsion 
that threatened its destruction, then to Pitt, as the 
master spirit who directed the movements of the British 
nation, the gratitude of Europe is also due. 

When Parliament met on the 15th of December, the 
king's speech mentioned the disturbances that had taken 
place in the country and the threatening state of affairs 
in Europe, and recommended an increase in the land 
and sea forces of the kingdom. This measure was alleged, 
among other grievances by France, as indicating an un- 
friendly feeling toward her on the part of the British 
Government; but it has been reasonably urged that she 
had already manned a fleet superior to that which Great 
Britain had in commission, besides keeping ready for 
instant service a large number of other ships, which 
could have no possible enemy except the British navy. 
Viewed simply as measures of precaution, of the neces- 
sity for which every state is its own judge, it is difficult 
to criticise severely either government; but the fact re- 
mains that France had been the first to arm her fleet, 
and that Great Britain did not do the same until substan- 
tial grounds of offence had been given. 

By a singular coincidence, on the same day that Par- 
liament met, the National Convention issued a second 
celebrated decree, yet more decisive in its character than 
that of November 19, which it was evidently meant to em- 
phasize and supplement. The generals of the Republic 
were now directed "in every country which the armies of 
the French Republic shall occupy, to announce the aboli- 
tion of all existing authorities, of nobility, of serfage, of 
every feudal right and every monopoly; to proclaim the 
sovereignty of the people and convoke the inhabitants in 
assemblies to form a provisional government, to which no 
officer of a former government, no noble, nor any member 


of the former privileged corporations, shall be eligible." 
To this was added the singular and most significant de- 
claration that "the French nation will treat as enemies 
any people which, refusing liberty and equality, desires 
to preserve its prince and privileged castes, or to make 
any accommodation with them." It was impossible to 
announce more clearly that this was no mere war of 
opinions, but, on the contrary, one of principles and 
methods fraught with serious and practical consequences; 
nor could any despot have worded a more contemptuous 
denial of the rights of a people concerning their form of 
government. The revolutionary spirit, which underlay 
the frequent changes of men in the French Government, 
showed how fixed was its purpose to alter forcibly the 
institutions of other states, regardless of the habits and 
affections of their citizens, by the systems imposed upon 
the smaller neighboring nations, hammered all upon the 
anvil of French centralization, in defiance of the wishes 
and the struggles of the people concerned. Europe thus 
found itself face to face with a movement as enthusiastic 
in its temper and as radical in its demands as the 
invasions of the Mahometans. 

To this fanatical, yet lofty, and in the masses of the 
French people generous and devoted spirit, continental Eu- 
rope had no equal force to oppose. It is a common remark 
that the eighteenth century saw the appearance of several 
ruling princes who were possessed with the liberal views of 
the rising school of philosophers, and who sincerely de- 
sired to effect the improvement and elevation of their 
people, — to remove grievances, to lighten burdens, to 
advance the general welfare. The wisdom or strength 
of these men had not been equal to the task they had 
assumed. There still remained unjustifiable inequalities 
of conditions, grievous abuses, a depression of the lower 
orders, and a stagnation among the upper, which seemed 
to place insurmountable obstacles in the way of advance, 


and made it impossible for the masses to feci a living, 
national interest in governments which contributed so 
little to their happiness. This good-will among the sov- 
ereigns of the day was indeed a most encouraging symp- 
tom. It made it possible to effect the needed changes 
and to advance without a violent break with the past, — 
to have reform and progress without revolution; but 
to achieve these ends was beyond the power of the ruler 
alone: there was needed the voice and co-operation of 
all classes in the state. This Louis XVI. had sought to 
obtain; but unfortunately, not only for France but for 
Europe, the most numerous and important of the orders 
of the States-General had met the difficulties of the 
situation, the outcome of centuries, not with firmness, 
but with impatience. From the beginning was shown 
the determination to break with the past, — to proceed at 
a bound to the desired goal. No regard was had to the 
fitness of the people for such sudden change, to the im- 
mense conservative force of established custom, nor to 
the value of continuity in the life of a nation. Nor was 
this all. Law, as well as custom, was lightly set at 
nought. The first Assembly threw off the fetters im- 
posed by its instructions, and assumed powers which had 
not been confided to it. By means of these usurped facul- 
ties the Constituent Assembly radically changed the 
constitution of France. 

The instantaneous effect upon the French people and 
upon the internal condition of the state is well known. 
As the far-reaching character of the movement, and its 
lack of efficient elements for self-control, became evident, 
the anxieties of conservative men in other nations, however 
desirous of steady progress in human liberty, could not 
fail to be aroused. It was notorious, long before 1792, 
that ill-balanced as was the new constitutional frame of 
government in France, and radical as was the temper of the 
leading members of the Legislative Assembly, the deliber- 

vol. n — 24 


ations of the latter were overawed by the clubs and the 
populace of Paris, and that government had practically 
passed into the hands of the mob which was worked by 
the clubs and the radical municipality of the city. The 
grotesque yet terrible scenes of June 20 and August 10, 
the hideous massacres of September, not merely showed 
the frantic excesses of which a French mob is capable, but 
also and more solemnly evinced how completely govern- 
mental control was swallowed up in anarchy. Still, all 
these things were internal to France, and it might be hoped 
would so remain until the French people had worked their 
own solution of their troubles. The decrees of November 
19 and December 15 blasted this hope, and formally 
announced that French beliefs and methods were to be 
forcibly spread throughout Europe. How was the assault 
to be met ? 

Few statesmen of that day expected that this mighty 
and furious spirit of misrule would so soon bend its neck 
to an uncontrolled and energetic despotism. The coming 
of the one man, Napoleon, was dimly seen in the dis- 
tance by the thoughtful, who knew that anarchy clears 
the way for absolute power; but the speedy appearance 
and tyrannous efficiency of the Committee of Public 
Safety, with its handmaid the Revolutionary Tribunal, 
were not foreseen. The statesmen of 1793 saw the 
strength, but were more impressed by the superficial ex- 
hibition of disorder in the popular outburst. They ex- 
pected to repress it, to drive it back within the limits of 
France, and impose the guarantees necessary for the 
security of Europe, by meeting it with numerous, well- 
organized armies of veteran troops, and by a solid, orderly 
financial system, wielding plentiful resources. In short, 
they thought to cope with a mighty spirit by means of 
elaborate and powerful machinery. The means were in- 
sufficient. The living spirit developed the rude but effi- 
cient organism which was needed to direct its energies 


and which was in sympathy with its aims; the elabo- 
rate machinery of armies and finances failed, because not 
quickened by the life of the nations by whose rulers it 
was wielded. 

Fortunately for Europe and for freedom, another spirit, 
less demonstrative but equally powerful, was already 
living and animating another great nation, peculiarly 
fitted by position and by the character of its power to 
grapple with and exhaust that which was vicious and 
destructive in the temper of the French Revolution. As 
already said, the great feature of English freedom was its 
respect for law, for established authority, for existing 
rights; its conservative while progressive character, in 
which it was directly opposed to the subversive principles 
of the French. But the English temper, when once 
aroused, was marked also by a tenacity of purpose, a con- 
stancy of endurance, which strongly supported the conser- 
vative tendencies of the race and were equally foreign to 
the French character. Once embarked in the strife, and 
definitely committed for the time to the preservation, 
rather than to the progress, of society, under leaders 
who strongly embodied the national traits, hatred of 
the enemy's principles became more conspicuous, super- 
ficially, than the love of freedom, which yet retained its 
hold deep in the hearts of both rulers and people. War 
does not live on the benevolent emotions, though it may 
be excited by them. The position and the maritime 
power of England were great factors, great determining 
factors in the final issue of the French Revolutionary 
wars; but these were but the machinery of the British 
power. The great gain to the cause of stability in human 
history was made when the spirit of order and law, em- 
bodied in the great nation which it had created, rose 
against the spirit of lawlessness and anarchy, which had 
now possessed a people who for long years and by nature 
had been submissively subject to external authority. Two 


living forces had met in a desperate struggle, which was 
not indeed for life and death, for both would survive ; but 
from which should result the predominance of the one 
that was compatible with reasonable freedom, and the 
subjection of the other, which knew no mean between 
anarchy and servile submission. Less ebullient, but 
more steadfast and deeply rooted, the former wore out 
the latter ; it forced it back through the stage of prostra- 
tion under absolute power until it had returned to the 
point whence it started, there to renew its journey under 
conditions that made it no longer a danger to the whole 

Such being the profound nature of the strife, its course 
may be regarded under two aspects, not necessarily op- 
posed, but rather complementary. First, and obviously, 
there is the policy of the leaders on either side, the ob- 
jects which they proposed to themselves, the steps by 
which they sought to compass those objects, and the 
results of their various movements. Secondly, there is 
the more obscure and wider question as to the relative 
influence of the great elements of power which entered as 
unconscious factors in the strife, — mighty forces, wielded 
or directed by statesmen, and yet after all their masters. 
Of these factors Sea Power was one, and among the most 

The circumstances of the times had placed this force 
wholly in the hands of Great Britain. She wielded it as 
absolute mistress. Its action, like that of all the other 
forces in the strife, depended in part upon the direction 
given it by the British leaders for the purposes of war. 
From this point of view, its structure appears to be 
simple and rudimentary ; the related movements of a few 
principal parts are open to inspection and susceptible of 
criticism. But from another point of view, in its course 
and influence, this wonderful and mysterious Power is 
seen to be a complex organism, endued with a life of its 


own, receiving and imparting countless impulses, moving 
in a thousand currents which twine in and around one an- 
other in infinite flexibility, not quite defying the inves- 
tigation which they provoke, but rendering it exceedingly 
laborious. This Power feels and is moved by many in- 
terests ; it has a great history in the past, it is making 
a great and yet more wonderful history in the present. 
Grown to the size of a colossus, which overshadows the 
earth without a second, — unless it be the new rival rising 
in the Western hemisphere, — it is now assailed with a 
fury and virulence never before displayed. Attacked in 
every quarter and by every means, sought to be cut off 
alike from the sources and from the issues of its enter- 
prise, it adapts itself with the readiness of instinct to 
every change. It yields here, it pushes there ; it gives 
ground in one quarter, it advances in another; it bears 
heavy burdens, it receives heavy blows; but throughout 
all it lives and it grows. It does not grow because of the 
war, but it does grow in spite of the war. The war im- 
pedes and checks, but does not stop, its progress. Drained 
of its seamen for the war-fleets, it modifies the restric- 
tions of generations, throws open its ports to neutral ships, 
its decks to neutral seamen, and by means of those allies 
maintains its fair proportions, until the enemy proclaims 
that the neutral who carries but a bale of British goods, 
even to his own country, ceases thereby to be a neutral 
and becomes the enemy of France ; a proclamation which 
but precipitated the ruin of French commerce, without 
markedly injuring that of its rival. 

The maritime power and commercial prosperity of 
Great Britain sprang essentially from the genius and 
aptitudes of her people, and were exceptionally favored 
and developed by the peculiar situation of the British 
Islands. To these natural advantages the policy of the 
government added somewhat, as at times it also igno- 
rantly imposed obstacles; but the actions of statesmen 


only modified, for good or ill, they did not create the 
impulses which originated and maintained the maritime 
activity of the British people. The most celebrated 
measure designed to foster that activity, Cromwell's 
Navigation Act, had now been in operation for a century 
and a quarter; but, while its superficial effects had se- 
cured the adherence of the British people and the envy 
of foreign states, shrewder economists, even a century 
ago, had come to regard it as an injury to the commer- 
cial prosperity of the country. They justified it only as 
a means of forcing the development of the merchant 
marine, the nursery of the naval force upon which the 
safety of Great Britain must depend. Whatever the 
fluctations of its fortunes or the mistakes of governments 
in the past, the sea power of Great Britain had at 
the opening of the French Revolution attained propor- 
tions, and shown a tenacity of life, which carried the 
promise of the vast expansion of our own day. Painfully 
harassed during the American Revolution, and suffering 
from the combined attacks of France, Spain, and Hoi) and, 
seeing then large portions of its carrying trade pass into 
the hands of neutrals, and bereft by the event of the war 
of its most powerful colonies, it had not only survived 
these strains, but by the immediate and sustained re- 
action of the peace had, in 1793, more than regained its 
pre-eminence. Once more it stood ready, not only to 
protect its own country, but to sustain, with its well- 
proved vitality, the demands of the continental war; 
where the armies of her allies, long untouched by the 
fires which breathed in France and England, were but a 
part of the machinery through which the maritime power 
of the latter energized. 

How far the ministers of the day understood, and how 
wisely they used, the sea power of Great Britain, is 
a question that will demand a separate consideration. 
That is the question of military policy, — of the strategy of 


the war. We have first to consider the influence of the 
maritime power in itself, and the functions discharged by 
Great Britain simply in consequence of possessing this 
great and unique resource. The existence, powers, and 
unconscious working of a faculty obviously offer a subject 
for consideration distinct from the intelligent use of the 
faculty; though a correct appreciation of the former 
conduces to an accurate criticism of the latter. 

Because of the decay of the French navy during the 
early years of the war, the Republic, after 1795, virtu- 
ally abandoned all attempt to contest control of the sea. 
A necessary consequence was the disappearance of its 
merchant shipping, a result accelerated by the capture 
of most of its colonies, and the ruin of its colonial 
system by the outbreaks of the blacks. So great was this 
loss, due rather to the natural operation of Great Britain's 
naval supremacy than to any particular direction by the 
ministry, that the Executive Directory, in a message to 
the Council of Five Hundred, January 13, 1799, could 
use the expression, scarcely exaggerated, "It is unhappily 
too true that there is not a single merchant vessel sail- 
ing under the French flag." Two years later the Minister 
of the Interior reported to the Consular Government that 
the commerce with Asia, Africa, and America was al- 
most naught, the importations direct from all those 
quarters of the globe amounting to only 1,500,000 
francs, while the exports to them were but 300,000 
francs. As the advancing tide of French conquest ex- 
tended the territory and alliances of the Republic, the 
commerce of its new friends was involved in the same 
disaster that had befallen its own. The shipping of 
Spain and Holland thus also disappeared from the sea, 
and a large part of their colonies likewise passed into the 
hands of Great Britain, to swell the commerce and to 
employ the shipping of the latter. The navy of neither 
of these Powers exerted any effect upon the control of 


the sea, except so far as they occupied the attention of 
detachments of the British navy, so marked had the 
numerical and moral superiority of the latter become. 

The disappearance of so large a body of merchant ship- 
ping as that of France, Holland, and Spain, could not, of 
course, imply the total loss to commerce and to the world 
of the traffic previously done by it. Much less could these 
three countries wholly dispense with the supplies for 
which, during peace, they had chiefly depended upon the 
sea. On the contrary, the necessity for importing many 
articles by sea was increased by the general continental 
war, which not only created a long hostile frontier, pro- 
hibitory of intercourse on the land side, but also, by 
drawing great numbers of workers from their ordinary 
occupations to the armies of all parties, caused a material 
diminution in the products of Europe at large. In France, 
shut in both by land and sea, with a million of men under 
arms, and confronted with the stern determination of 
England to reduce her by starvation, the danger and the 
suffering were particularly great ; and had there not been 
a singularly abundant and early harvest in 1794, the aim 
of her enemy might then have been in great measure 

Such a condition of things offered of course a great 
opening to neutral maritime states. They hastened to 
embrace it, — among others the United States, whose 
carrying trade grew very rapidly at this time; but the 
naval power of Great Britain during this period was so 
overwhelming, and her purpose so strong, that she suc- 
ceeded in imposing severe restraints upon neutrals as 
well as enemies, in matters which she considered of 
prime importance. Sweden and Denmark strenuously re- 
sisted her claim to prevent the importation into France 
of provisions and naval stores; but failing, through the 
hostile attitude of the Czarina towards France, to receive 
the powerful support of Russia, as in 1780 they had done, 


they were forced to succumb to the Power of the Sea. 
The United States likewise were constrained by their 
impotence to yield, under protest, before the same over- 
whelming Power. While reserving the principle, they 
in practice conceded naval stores to be contraband, and 
on the subject of provisions accepted a compromise which 
protected their own citizens without materially injuring 
France. No serious attempt was made to change the 
existing rule of international law, by which enemies' 
property on board neutral ships was good prize. As 
seizure involved sending the ship into a port of the 
captor, and a possible detention there during the adjudi- 
cation of suspected goods, the inconvenience of the pro- 
cess was a powerful deterrent. The English courts also 
held that the produce of hostile colonies was lawful prize 
if found in neutral bottoms ; because, the trade of those 
colonies being by the mother countries interdicted to for- 
eigners in peace, the concession of it in war was merely a 
ruse to defraud the other belligerent of his just rights of 
capture, — a plea uselessly contested by American writers. 
All these causes operated to the injury of both hostile 
and neutral commerce, and to the same extent, in appear- 
ance at least, to the benefit of the British; and they are 
cited simply as illustrative of the natural working of 
so great a force as the Sea Power of Great Britain then 
was. The results were due, not to the skill with which 
the force was used or distributed, but to sheer preponder- 
ance of existing brute strength. 

By the destruction of the enemies' own shipping and by 
denying neutrals the right to carry to them many articles 
of the first importance, Great Britain placed the hostile 
countries in a state of comparative isolation, and created 
within their borders a demand for the prohibited mer- 
chandise which raised its price and made the supplying 
of it extremely profitable. When commercial intercourse 
is thus refused its usual direct roads, it seeks a new path, 


by the nearest circuitous course, with all the persistency 
of a natural force. The supply will work its way to the 
demand, though in diminished volume, through all the 
obstacles interposed by man. Even the contracted lines 
about a beleaguered city will thus be pierced by the 
ingenuity of the trader seeking gain ; but when the block- 
ade is extended over a long frontier, total exclusion be- 
comes hopeless. In such cases the tendency of commerce 
is to seek a centre near the line which it intends to cross, 
and there to accumulate the goods which are to pass the 
hostile frontier and reach the belligerent. That centre 
will usually be in a neutral seaport, to which trade is 
free, and a clearance for which will afford no pretext for 
seizure or detention by the opposite belligerent. Thus, 
in the American Revolution, the neutral Dutch island of 
St. Eustatius became the rendezvous and depot of traders 
who purposed to introduce their goods, even contraband 
of war, into the West India islands of either party to that 
contest ; and it was asserted that upon its capture by the 
British, in 1781, when war began with Holland, large 
amounts of property belonging to English merchants, but 
intended for French customers, were found there. 80, in 
the American Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, the town of 
Nassau in the British Bahamas became a centre at which 
were accumulated stores of all kinds intended to break 
through the blockade of the Southern coast. 

So again, in the wars of the French Revolution, as long 
as Holland remained in alliance with Great Britain, that 
country was the centre from which foreign goods poured 
into France and the continent of Europe; but when the 
United Provinces had been overrun by French troops, and 
a revolution in their government had attached them to the 
French policy, commerce, driven from their now blockaded 
coast, sought another depot farther to the eastward, and 
found it in Bremen, Hamburg, and some other German 
ports, — of which, however, Hamburg was by far the most 


favored and prosperous. Through Hamburg the coffee 
and sugar of the West Indies, the manufactured goods of 
Great Britain, the food products of America, the luxuries 
of the East, poured into Germany; and also into France, 
despite the prohibitive measures of French governments. 
An indication of this change in the course of commerce is 
found in the fact that the imports from Great Britain 
alone into Germany, which amounted to £2,000,000 in 
1792, had in 1796, the year after Holland became allied 
to France, increased to £8,000,000, although the pur- 
chasing power of Germany had meanwhile diminished. In 
the same time the tonnage annually clearing from Great 
Britain to Germany increased from 120,000 to 266,000. 
Similar results, on a much smaller scale, were seen at 
Gibraltar when Spain attempted to prevent British goods 
entering her own ports; and again at Malta, when the 
possession of that island offered British commerce a foot- 
hold far advanced in the Central Mediterranean. Some- 
what similar, likewise, were the advantages of the islands 
of Ceylon and Trinidad with reference to the mainlands 
of India and South America, which gave to them a par- 
ticular commercial as well as strategic value, and led 
England to accept them as her compensations at the 
Peace of Amiens. 

In such cases the temporary commercial centre not only 
reaps the profits of the broker, but all classes of its com- 
munity benefit by the increase of employments, of floating 
capital, and of floating population. Precisely analogous 
to these was the office which her geographical position 
and unrivalled control of the sea enabled Great Britain 
to discharge toward the European world during the 
French Revolution. Her maritime power and commer- 
cial spirit, the gradual though rapid growth of past gener- 
ations, enabled her at once to become the warehouse where 
accumulated the products of all nations and of all seas 
then open to commerce, and whence they were trans- 


shipped to the tempest-tossed and war-torn Continent. 
So also her watery bulwarks, traversed in every direction 
by her powerful navy, secured her peaceful working as the 
great manufactory of Europe, and thus fostered an immense 
development of her industries, which had become more 
than ever necessary to the welfare of the world, since those 
of Holland and France were either crippled for want of 
raw material or isolated by their impotence at sea. Great 
Britain impeded the direct admission of tropical products 
to the Continent ; but their re-exportation from her own 
ports and the export of British manufactures became the 
two chief sources of her singular prosperity. The favor- 
able reaction produced by this concentration within her 
borders of so much of the commercial machinery of the 
civilized world, is evident. Activities of every kind 
sprang up on all sides, increasing the employment of 
labor and the circulation of capital ; and, while it is vain 
to contend that war increases the prosperity of nations, it 
must be conceded that such a state of things as we have 
depicted affords much compensation to the nation con- 
cerned, and may even increase its proportionate prosperity, 
when compared with that of its less fortunate enemies. 
To quote the words of Lanfrey : " The English nation had 
never at any time shown more reliance upon its own re- 
sources than when Pitt, in 1801, retired after eight years 
of war. The people bore without difficulty the heavy taxes 
which the war imposed upon them, and what was more 
astonishing still, Pitt had found no opposition in Parlia- 
ment to his last Budget. The immense increase in the 
industrial prosperity of England triumphantly refuted the 
predictions of her enemies, as well as the complaints of 
alarmists. As the effect of every fresh declaration of 
war upon the Continent had been to diminish competition 
in the great market of the world and to throw into her 
hands the navies and colonies of her adversaries, the Eng- 
lish had begun to look upon the loan of millions and the 


subsidies as so much premium paid for the development of 
their own resources. " 1 

It is not, therefore, merely as a weapon of war in 
the hands of the ministry that the sea power of Great 
Britain is to be regarded; nor yet only as the fruitful 
mother of subsidies, upon whose bountiful breasts hung 
the impoverished and struggling nations of the Continent. 
Great as were its value and importance in these respects, 
it had yet a nobler and more vital function. Upon it 
depended the vigorous life of the great nation which 
supplied the only power of motive capable of coping with 
the demoniac energy that then possessed the spirit of the 
French. Great Britain, though herself unconscious of the 
future, was in the case of a man called upon to undergo 
a prolonged period of trial, exposure, and anxiety, severely 
testing all his powers, physical and mental. However 
sound the constitution, it is essential that, when thus 
assailed by adverse external influences, all its vital pro- 
cesses should be protected, nourished, and even stimulated, 
or else the bodily energies will flag, fail, and collapse. 
This protection, this nourishment, the maritime power 
ministered to the body politic of the state. Despite the 
undeniable sufferings of large classes among the people, 
the ministry could boast from year to year the general 
prosperity of the realm, the flourishing condition of com- 
merce, the progressive preponderance and control of the 
sea exerted by the navy, and a series of naval victories of 
unprecedented brilliancy, which stimulated to the highest 
degree the enthusiasm of the nation. Such a combination 
of encouraging circumstances maintained in full tension 
the springs of self-confidence and moral energy, in the 
absence of which no merely material powers or resources 
are capable of effective action. 

By the natural and almost unaided working of its in- 
trinsic faculties, the sea power of Great Britain sus 

1 Lanfrey's Napoleon, vol. ii. chap. iii. p. 122 (Eng. trans , 2d ed.). 


tained the material forces of the state and the spirit of 
the people. From these we turn to the consideration of 
the more striking, though not more profound, effects pro- 
duced by the use made of this maritime power by the 
British ministry — to the policy and naval strategy of the 
war — in curtailing the resources and sapping the strength 
of the enemy, and in compelling him to efforts at once 
inevitable, exhausting, and fruitless. In undertaking 
this examination, it will be first necessary to ascertain 
what were the objects the ministers proposed to achieve 
by the struggle in which they had embarked the nation. 
If these are found to agree, in the main, with the aim 
they should have kept before them, through realizing the 
character of the general contest, and Great Britain's proper 
part in it, the policy of the war will be justified. It will 
then only remain to consider how well the general direc- 
tion given to the naval and military operations furthered 
the objects proposed, — whether the strategy of the war 
was well adapted to bring its policy to a successful 

The sudden revulsion of feeling in the British ministry, 
consequent upon the decrees of November 19 and December 
15, has been mentioned. It was then realized that not 
only the internal quiet of Great Britain was endangered, 
but that the political stability of Europe was threatened 
by a Power whose volcanic energy could not be ignored. 
There was not merely the fear that extreme democratic 
principles would be transmitted from the masses of one 
country to those of another still unprepared to receive 
them. To say that the British Government went to war 
merely to divert the interest of the lower orders from in- 
ternal to foreign relations is not a fair statement of the 
case. The danger that threatened England and Europe 
was the violent intervention of the French in the internal 
affairs of every country to which their armies could pene- 
trate. This purpose was avowed by the Convention, and 


how sincerely was proved by the history of many an ad- 
joining state within the next few years. Although the 
worst excesses of the Revolution had not yet occurred, 
enough had been done to indicate its tendencies, and to 
show that, where it prevailed, security of life, property, 
and social order disappeared. 

Security, therefore, was from the first alleged as the 
great object of the war by the Prime Minister, who un- 
doubtedly was the exponent of the government, as truly 
as he was tli3 foremost man then in England. In his 
speech of February 12, 1793, upon the French declaration 
of war, he returns again and again to this word, as the 
key-note to the British policy. 

"Not only had his Majesty entered into no treaty, but no 
step even had been taken, and no engagement formed on the 
part of our Government, to interfere in the internal affairs of 
France, or attempt to dictate to them any form of constitu- 
tion. I declare that the whole of the interference of Great 
Britain has been with the general view of seeing if it was 
possible, either by our own exertions or in concert with any 
other Power, to recess this French system of aggrandizement 
and aggression, with the view of seeing whether we could not 
re-establish the blessings of peace ; whether we could not, 
either separately or jointly with other Powers, provide for 
the security of our own country and the general security of 

It is only fair to Pitt to compare the thought underly- 
ing this speech of February 12, 1793, with that of Febru- 
ary 17, 1792, already quoted, in order that there may be 
realized the identity of principle and conviction which 
moved him under circumstances so diverse. This posi- 
tion he continually maintained from year to year; nor 
did he, when taunted by the leader of the Opposition with 
lack of definitencss in the objects of the war, suffer him- 
self to be goaded into any other statement of policy. It 
was in vain that the repeated jeer was uttered, that the 


ministry did not know what they were driving at; and 
when the constant recurrence of allied disasters and 
French successes on the Continent, preceding as they did 
the most brilliant successes of the British navy, made yet 
more poignant the exultation of the Opposition, Pitt still 
refused, with all his father's proud tenacity, to give any 
other account of his course than that he sought security — 
peace, yes, but only a secure peace. To define precisely 
what success on the part of Great Britain, or what re- 
verses suffered by France, would constitute the required 
security, was to prophesy the uncertain fortunes of war, 
and the endurance of that strange madness which was 
impelling the French nation. When a man finds his in- 
terests or his life threatened by the persistent malice of 
a powerful enemy, he can make no reply to the question, 
how long or how far he will carry his resistance, except 
this : that when the enemy's power of injury is effectually 
curtailed, or when his own power of resistance ends, 
then, and then only, will he cease to fight. It fell to 
Pitt's lot, at one period of the war, to be brought face to 
face with the latter alternative ; but the course of the 
French Government — of the Directory as well as of 
Napoleon — justified fully the presentiment of the British 
Government in 1793, that not until the aggressive power 
of France was brought within bounds, could Europe know 
lasting peace. Peace could not be hoped from the tem- 
per of the French rulers. 

Whatever shape, therefore, the military operations 
might assume, the object of the war in the apprehension 
of the British minister was strictly defensive ; just as the 
French invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, though an 
offensive military operation, was, in its inception, part of 
a strictly defensive war. To the larger and more general 
motive of her own security and that of Europe, there was 
also added, for Great Britain, the special treaty obliga- 
tion to assist Holland in a defensive struggle, — an obliga- 



tion which was brought into play by the French declaration 
of war against the United Provinces. It is necessary to 
note the two causes of war, because the relation of Great 
Britain to the wider conflict was different from that which 
she bore to the defence of Holland, and entailed a differ- 
ent line of action. The treaty called upon her to contrib- 
ute a certain quota of land forces, and the character of her 
particular interest, in both the Netherlands and Holland 
made it expedient and proper that British troops should 
enter the field for their protection; but after the disas- 
trous campaign of 1794 had subdued Holland to France, 
and a revolution in its government had changed its rela- 
tions to Great Britain, the troops were withdrawn, and 
did not again appear on the Continent until 1799, when 
favorable circumstances induced a second, but futile at- 
tempt to rescue the Provinces from French domination 

The part borne by the troops of England in the earlier 
continental campaigns was therefore but an episode, de- 
pending upon her special relations to Holland, and termi- 
nated by the subjection of that country to France. What 
was the relation of Great Britain to the wider struggle, 
in which, at the beginning, almost all the nations of the 
Continent were engaged ? What functions could she dis- 
charge towards curtailing the power of France, and so 
restoring to Europe that security without which peace is 
but a vain word ? Upon the answers to these questions 
should depend the criticism of the use made by the Brit- 
ish ministry of the nation's power. To condemn details 
without having first considered what should be the leading 
outlines of a great design, is as unsafe as it is unfair; for 
steps indefensible in themselves may be justified by the 
exigencies of the general policy. It is not to be expected 
that, in a war of such vast proportions and involvmg such 
unprecedented conditions, serious mistakes of detail should 
not be made; but, if the great measures adopted bear a 
due proportion both to the powers possessed and to the 

vol II. — 25 


end aimed at, then the government will have fulfilled all 
that can be demanded of it. 

The sea power which constituted the chief strength of 
Great Britain furnished her with two principal weapons : 
naval superiority, which the course of the war soon devel- 
oped into supremacy, and money. The traditional policy 
of a strong party in the state, largely represented in the 
governing classes, was bitterly adverse to a standing 
army ; and the force actually maintained was to a great 
extent neutralized by the character of the empire, which, 
involving possessions scattered over all quarters of the 
globe, necessitated dispersion instead of concentrated 
action. The embarrassment thus caused was increased 
by the dangerously discontented condition of Ireland, 
involving the maintenance of a considerable permanent 
force there, with the possibility of having to augment it. 
Furthermore, the thriving condition of the manufactures 
and commerce of England, protected from the storm of 
war ravaging the Continent and of such vital importance 
to the general welfare of Europe, made it inexpedient to 
withdraw her people from the ranks of labor, at a time 
when the working classes of other nations were being 
drained for the armies. 

For these reasons great operations on land, or a con- 
spicuous share in the continental campaigns became, if 
not absolutely impossible to Great Britain, at least clearly 
unadvisable. It was economically wiser, for the purposes 
of the coalitions, that she should be controlling the sea, 
supporting the commerce of the world, making money and 
managing the finances, while other states, whose indus- 
tries were exposed to the blast of war and who had not 
the same commercial aptitudes, did the fighting on land. 
This defines substantially the course followed by the 
ministry of the day, for which the younger Pitt has been 
most severely criticised. It is perhaps impossible to 
find any historian of repute who will defend the general 


military conduct of the Cabinet at whose head he stood ; 
while the brilliant successes of the Seven Years' War have 
offered a ready text for disparagers, from his conteinporar}-, 
Fox, to those of our own day, to draw a mortifying con- 
trast between his father and himself. Yet what were the 
military enterprises and achievements of the justly famed 
Seven Years' War ? They were enterprises of exactly the 
same character as those undertaken in the French Revolu- 
tionary War, and as those which, it may be added, are so 
constant a feature of English history, whether during 
times of European peace or of European war, that it may 
reasonably be suspected there is, in the conditions of the 
British empire, some constant cause for their recurrence. 
Like the petty wars which occur every few years in our 
generation, they were mixed military and naval expedi- 
tions, based upon the fleet and upon the control of the 
sea, scattered in all quarters of the world, employing 
bodies of troops small when compared to the size of 
continental armies, and therefore for the most part bear 
ing, individually, the character of secondary operations, 
however much they may have conduced to a great common 

It is an ungracious task to institute comparisons ; but, 
if just conclusions are to be reached, the real facts of a 
case must be set forth. The elder Pitt had not to contend 
with such a navy as confronted his son at the outbreak of 
the French Revolution. The French navy, as is avowed 
by its historians, had received great and judicious care 
throughout the reign of Louis XVI. ; it had a large and 
splendid body of ships in 1793; it enjoyed the proud con- 
fidence of the nation, consequent upon its actions in the 
war of 1778; and, although its efficiency was fatally 
affected by the legislation of the National Assembly and 
by the emigrations, it was still an imposing force. Not 
until years of neglect had passed over it, and the fatal 
Battle of the Nile had been fought, did its character and 


weight sink to the same relative insignificance that the 
elder Pitt encountered in the Seven Years' War. The 
elder, like the younger, shaped his system of war upon the 
control of the sea, upon the acquisition of colonies, upon 
subsidizing allies upon the Continent, and, as main out- 
lines of policy, these were undoubtedly correct; but the 
former had in his favor heavy odds in the weak condition 
of the French navy, and in having on his side the great 
military genius of the age. On the side of the elder Pitt 
fought Frederick the Great, against a coalition, numeri- 
cally overwhelming indeed, 'but half-hearted, ill-knit, 
and led by generals far inferior to their great opponent, 
often mere creatures of the most corrupt Court favor. 
Against the younger Pitt arose a greater than Frederick, 
at the very moment of triumph, when the combined effects 
of the sea power of England, of the armies of Austria, and 
of the incompetency of the Directory had brought the 
Revolution "to bay," — to use the words of a distin- 
guished French naval officer and student. 1 In 1796 and 
in 1799 Bonaparte, and Bonaparte alone, rescued from 
impending destruction — not France, for France was not 
the object of Pitt's efforts — but that " system of ag- 
grandizement and aggression " to which France was then 

The elder Pitt saw his work completed, though by 
weaker hands; the younger struggled on through dis- 
appointment after disappointment, and died under the 
shadow of Austerlitz, worn out in heart and mind by the 
dangers of his country. Contemporaries and men of later 
generations, British and foreigners, have agreed in at- 
tributing to him the leading part in the coalitions against 
Revolutionary France ; but they have failed to admit the 
specific difficulties under which he labored, and how 
nearly he achieved success. It is easy to indulge in 
criticism of details, and to set one undertaking against 

1 Jurien de la Graviere, Vie de l'Amiral Baudin, p. 9. 


another; to show the failures of expeditions landed on 
the French coast in the Seven Years' War; to point out 
that Wolfe's conquest of Canada in 1759, by freeing the 
American colonies from their fear of France, promoted 
their revolt against Great Britain, while Nelson in 1798, 
and Abercromby in 1801, saved Egypt, and probably India 
also, to England ; to say that the elder Pitt did not regain 
Minorca by arms, while the younger secured both it and 
Malta. Martinique fell to the arms of both ; the Cape of 
Good Hope, Ceylon, Trinidad, prizes of the later war, 
may fairly be set against' Havana and Manila of the 
earlier. In India, Clive, the first and greatest of British 
Indian heroes, served the elder Pitt ; yet before the arms 
of the younger fell Mysore, the realm of Hyder Ali and 
Tippoo Saib, the most formidable enemies that Britain 
had yet met in the Peninsula. Such comparisons and 
arguments are endless ; partly because there is much to 
be said on both sides, but chiefly because they concern 
details only, and do not touch the root of the matter. 

The objects of the two Pitts were different, for the cir- 
cumstances of their generations were essentially diverse. 
The task of the one was to extend and establish the great 
colonial system, whose foundations had been laid by 
previous generations, and to sustain in Europe the 
balance of power between rival, but orderly, govern- 
ments; that of the other was to steady the social order 
and political framework of Great Britain herself, and of 
Europe, against a hurricane which threatened to tear up 
both by the roots. Each in his day, to strengthen his 
country and to weaken the enemy, pursued the same great 
line of policy, which in the one age and in the other fitted 
the situation of Great Britain. To extend and consolidate 
her sea power; to lay the world under contribution to her 
commerce ; to control the sea by an all-powerful navy ; to 
extend her colonial empire by conquest, thereby increas- 
ing her resources, multiplying her naval bases, and depriv- 


ing her enemy alike of revenues and of points whence he 
could trouble English shipping; to embarrass the great 
enemy, France, by subsidizing continental allies, — such 
was the policy of both the Pitts; such, alike in the 
Revolution and in the Seven Years' War, was the policy 
imposed by a due recognition, not only of the special 
strength of Great Britain, but of her position in relation 
to the general struggle. Frederick in the one case, Aus- 
tria in the other, needed the money, which only the sus- 
tained commercial prosperity of England could supply. 
The difference in the actual ca'reers run by the two states- 
men is that the son had to meet far greater obstacles 
than the father, and that, so far as the part of Great 
Britain herself was concerned, he achieved equal, if not 
greater, successes. The father had to contend, not against 
the mighty fury of the French Revolution, but against the 
courtier generals and the merely professional soldiery of 
Louis XV. and his mistresses; he had an allied America; 
he met no mutiny of the British fleet ; he was threatened 
by no coalition of the Baltic Powers ; he encountered no 
Bonaparte. It was the boast of British merchants that 
under his rule "Commerce was united to and made to 
grow by war;" but British commerce increased during the 
French Revolution even more than it did in the earlier 
war, and the growth of the British navy, in material 
strength and in military glory, under the son, exceeded 
that under the father. 

In history the personality of the elder statesman is far 
more imposing than that of the younger. The salient 
characteristic of the one was an imperious and fiery im- 
petuosity; that of the other, reserve. The one succeeded 
in power a minister inefficient as an administrator, weak 
in nerve, and grotesque in personal appearance; the strik- 
ing contrast presented by the first William Pitt to the 
Duke of Newcastle, his aggressive temper, the firm self- 
reliance of his character, his dazzling personality, around 


which a dramatic halo clung even in the hour of his death, 
made a vivid impression upon the imagination of contem- 
poraries, and have descended as a tradition to our own 
days. Save to a few intimate friends, the second Pitt 
was known to his fellow-countrymen only on the benches 
of the House of Commons. A temper as indomitable as 
his father's bore in silence the vastly greater and more 
prolonged strain of a most chequered struggle; only a few 
knew that the strain was endured with a cheerfulness, a 
calmness, and a presence of mind, which of themselves 
betoken a born leader of m6n. In the darkest hour, when 
the last ally, Austria, had forsaken England and consented 
to treat with France, when the seamen of the fleet had 
mutinied, and British ships of war, taken violently from 
their officers, were blockading the approaches to London, 
Pitt was awakened during the night by a member of the 
Cabinet with some disastrous news. He listened quietly, 
gave his directions calmly and clearly, and dismissed the 
messenger. The latter, after leaving the house, thought 
it necessary to return for some further instruction, and 
found the minister again sleeping quietly. The incident 
is a drama in itself. 

In considering the use made of Great Britain's powers 
for war by the administration of the second Pitt, the broad 
outlines should be regarded, not as a simply military ques- 
tion, — such as the combinations of a general officer in a 
campaign, — but as efforts of statesmanship, directing 
arms in an attempt to compass by force the requirements 
considered to be most decisive in a political situation. 
The office of the statesman is to determine, and to in- 
dicate to the military authorities, the national interests 
most vital to be defended, as well as the objects of con- 
quest or destruction most injurious to the enemy, in view 
of the political exigencies which the military power only 
subserves. The methods by which the military force will 
proceed to the ends thus indicated to it — the numbers, 


character, equipment of the forces to be employed, and 
their management in campaign — are technical matters, to 
be referred to the military or naval expeit by the states- 
man. If the latter undertakes to dictate in these, he goes 
beyond his last and commonly incurs misfortune. 

It is not likely that such a division of labor, between 
the statesman, the soldier, and the seaman, is ever for- 
mally made. It is enough if it be practically recognized 
by the due influence of the military element in deciding 
details, and by its cheerful obedience in carrying out the 
views of the government whose servant it is. In criticis- 
ing results it is fair to assume, where not otherwise 
proved, that for the general direction of the war the gov- 
ernment is responsible, and that in the particular manage- 
ment of military movements the advice of professional men 
has had just weight. A somewhat striking illustration 
of this is to be found in the change of naval strategy, 
within the limits of the Channel fleet, when, without any 
change in the government, the positive convictions and 
stringent methods of Lord St. Vincent set aside, in 1800, 
the traditions of Lord Howe and Lord Bridport. 

What then was the general direction imparted to 
military movements by a government which had an- 
nounced its object in the war to be the attainment of 
security, by "repressing the French system of aggrandize- 
ment and aggression" ? 

Owing to the distracted condition of France, many 
confusing cross-lights were at first cast upon that central 
theatre of European disturbance, by movements whose 
force it was impossible rightly to estimate. Such were 
the risings in La Vende'e and Brittany, the revolt at 
Lyon, the delivery of Toulon to the allied fleets. Ex- 
perience justifies the opinion that such insurgent move- 
ments, involving but a part of a nation, are best left to 
themselves, supported only by money and supplies. If, 
thus aided, they have not the vitality to make good their 


cause, the presence of foreign troops, viewed ever with 
jealousy by the natives, will not insure success. It is, 
however, the French Revolution itself that furnishes the 
surest illustrations of this truth, shedding upon it a light 
which Pitt did not have to guide him. Such embarrass- 
ments of the French Government were naturally thought 
to give opportunity for powerful diversions; the more so 
as the amount of disaffection was much exaggerated, and 
the practice of partial descents upon the French coasts 
had come down unquestioned from previous wars. 

To this mistake, as natural as any ever made in war, 
and to the treaty obligation to support Holland, is to be 
attributed much of the misdirection given to the British 
army in the first two years of the war. When the illu- 
sion was over, and Holland conquered, the military effort 
of Great Britain was at once concentrated on its proper 
objects of ruling the sea and securing positions that con- 
tributed to naval control and commercial development. 
Even in 1793 a respectable force had been sent to the 
West Indies, which in 1794 reduced all the Windward 
Islands. Stretching its efforts too far, reverses followed ; 
but in 1795 a powerful fleet was sent with sixteen thou- 
sand troops commanded by Sir Ralph Abercromby, the 
best general officer revealed by the early part of the war. 
From the first, Pitt had seen the necessity of controlling 
the West Indies. That necessity was twofold: first, by 
far the greatest fraction of British trade, over one fourth 
of the whole, depended upon them; and, second, the 
enemy's islands were not only val Liable as producing, 
they were above all the homes of cruisers that endangered 
all commerce, neutral as well as British. To control the 
whole Caribbean region was, among those objects that lay 
within the scope of the British Government, the one most 
essential to the success of the general war. To sneer at 
the attempt as showing merely a wish for sugar islands is 
to ignore the importance of the West Indies to the finan- 


cial stability of Great Britain ; upon whose solvency de- 
pended, not only the maritime war, but the coalitions 
whose aid was needed to repress "the system of French 
aggression. " 

Abercromby restored England's control over the lesser 
Antilles, except Guadaloupe, and added to her possessions 
Trinidad and the Dutch colonies on the mainland. Al- 
though unable to retain Haiti, whose ports were for some 
time occupied, the British navy ensured its loss to France 
and the final success of the negro revolt ; and commercial 
relations were established with the new government. 
During the same period the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, 
and other Dutch and French possessions in India were 
reduced by similar expeditions. These not only extended 
the sphere of British commerce ; they contributed yet 
more to its enlargement by the security resulting from 
the conversion of hostile to friendly ports, and the con- 
sequent diminution of enemy's cruisers. 

It is a singular fact that neither the extraordinary 
commercial prosperity secured by these successes, nor the 
immense development of the navy during Pitt's adminis- 
tration, is mentioned in the celebrated denunciation of 
his "drivelling " war policy by Macaulay. Of naval ad- 
ministration the latter speaks, in order to assign the 
credit to another; on commercial and naval expansion he 
is silent. Yet no factors in the war were so important. 
The one sustained Great Britain, on whose shoulders was 
upborne the whole resistance of Europe ; the other crushed 
France by a process of constriction which, but for Bona- 
parte, would have reduced her at an early period, and to 
free her from which Napoleon himself was driven to meas- 
ures that ruined him. These important results were ob- 
tained by lengthening the cords and strengthening the 
stakes of British commerce, by colonial expansion and 
safe-guarding the seas, and by the growth of the navy, — 
none of which objects could have been accomplished with- 


out the hearty support of the Prime Minister. From the 
co-operation of these causes, and the restrictions placed 
on neutral trade, the commerce of Great Britain increased 
by 65 1 per cent between 1792 and 1800, while the loss by 
capture was less than 2 \ per cent on the annual volume of 

The directly offensive use of Great Britain's maritime 
power made by the ministry, in order to repress the 
French system of aggression, consisted in throwing back 
France upon herself, while at the same time cutting off 
her resources. The continental armies which begirt her 
on the land side were supported by subsidies; and also 
when practicable, as in the Mediterranean, by the co- 
operation of the British fleets, to whose influence upon 
his Italian campaign in 1796 Bonaparte continually al- 
ludes. To seaward the colonial system of France was 
ruined, raw material cut off from her manufactures, her 
merchant shipping swept from the sea. In 1797 the chief 
of the Bureau of Commerce in France wrote : " The former 
sources of our prosperity are either lost or dried up. Our 
agricultural, manufacturing, and industrial power is al- 
most extinct. " 2 At the same time, while not denying the 
right of neutrals to trade with ports not blockaded, every 
restriction that could be placed upon such trade by strin- 
gent, and even forced, interpretations of international law 
was rigorously imposed by a navy whose power was irre- 
sistible. Even provisions (and it will be well for Great 
Britain of the present day to recall the fact) were claimed 
to be contraband of war, on the ground that, in the then 
condition of France, when there was a reasonable hope of 
starving her into peace, to supply them contributed to 
prolong hostilities. 

1 That is, about 8 per cent annually. The increase during the four years 
of the elder Pitt in the Seven Years' War, 1757-1761, was 29 per cent, about 
7 per cent annually 

2 Systeme Maritime et Politique des Europeens dans le 18 me siecle, par 
Arnould. Paris, 1797. 


So severe was the suffering and poverty caused by this 
isolation, that in the moment of his greatest triumph, 
immediately after signing the peace of Campo Formio, 
which left Great Britain without an ally, in October, 
1797, Bonaparte wrote: "Either our government must 
destroy the English monarchy, or must expect to be itself 
destroyed by the corruption and intrigue of those active 
islanders. Let us concentrate all our activity upon the 
navy and destroy England." The Directory, conscious 
that its navy was paralyzed and that its guerre de course, 
pursued since 1795 against British commerce, had not 
seriously affected the latter, although 1797 was the year 
of its lowest depression, could see no further means of 
injuring England except by attacking the neutral carriers 
of her wares. Affecting to regard them as accomplices 
in Great Britain's crimes against humanity, it procured 
from the Convention, in January, 1798, a decree that 
" every vessel found at sea, having on board English 
merchandise as her cargo, in whole or in part, shall be 
declared lawful prize, whosoever shall be the proprietor 
of the merchandise, which shall be reputed contraband 
for this cause alone, that it comes from England or her 
possessions. " At the same time orders were issued to con- 
fiscate property of British origin wherever found on shore, 
and domiciliary visits were authorized to insure its dis- 
covery. Napoleon was therefore perfectly justified in 
declaring in later years that the Directory outlined the 
policy of his Continental System, embodied in his Berlin 
and Milan decrees of 1806 and 1807. 

To the Directory the attempt thus to destroy British 
prosperity worked disaster. To Napoleon it brought 
ruin, owing to the greater vigor, wider scope, and longer 
duration which he was able to impart to the process. 
The aim of his Berlin and Milan decrees, like that of the 
Directory, was to undermine British trade by depriving 
it of the necessary concurrence of neutral carriers. As 


this alone would not be enough, he determined to support 
the decrees by excluding Great Britain from her princi- 
pal market, to close the entire Continent to all goods 
coming from her or her colonies, or even passing through 
her ports. For this purpose — to carry out this gigantic 
project — edict after edict was issued to France and her 
allied countries ; for this purpose annexation after annex- 
ation to the empire was made ; for this purpose a double 
cordon of French troops lined the shores of the Continent 
from France to the Baltic; for this purpose British goods 
were not only seized but publicly burned throughout his 
dominions; for this purpose demands were made upon all 
neutral states to exclude British manufactures and colo- 
nial produce; for this purpose the calamitous Spanish war 
was incurred ; * and finally, for this purpose reiterated and 
imperious complaints were addressed to the czar on his 
failure to enforce the exclusion, and, upon his persistence, 
the fatal invasion of Russia followed. 

The justice or wisdom of this course is not here in ques- 
tion. It is enough to say that it nearly ruined Great 
Britain, but entirely ruined Napoleon. The noticeable 
point, bearing upon the wisdom of Pitt's military policy, 
is that Napoleon was forced into it by that policy, because 
England was destroying him and he had no other means 
of injuring her. Great Britain's success not only fol- 
lowed, but was consequent upon steady adherence to the 
main features of Pitt's policy. Military writers say that 
success on a battlefield is of slight avail if the strategic 
line of operations is ill-chosen, and that even a great 
defeat may be redeemed if the position has been taken in 
accordance with the strategic conditions of the campaign. 
This amounts to saying, in non-military language, that 
hard blows are useless if not struck on the right spot. 

1 For Napoleon's own assertion of this fact, see " Note pour le Ministre 
des Relations Exte'rieures," Corr. de Nap., Oct. 7, 1810. See also ante, 
p. 320. 


Numerous reverses attended the coalitions against France, 
although few fell upon Great Britain herself; but none 
was fatal because the general policy, begun by Pitt and 
continued by his successors, was strategically sound with 
reference to the object in view, — namely, "the repression 
of that system of aggression" which was the very spirit of 
the French Revolution, formulated by the Convention, 
adopted by the Directory, inherited and given its full 
logical development by Napoleon. 

It is the fashion with the political heirs of Fox, Pitt's 
greatest opponent, to draw a marked contrast between the 
war which preceded and that which followed the Peace of 
Amiens. In the former it is Great Britain which, in a 
frenzy of hatred or panic fear toward the French Revolu- 
tion, becomes the wanton aggressor, and turns a movement 
that, despite some excesses, was on the whole beneficent, 
into the stormy torrent of blood that poured over Europe. 
In the second war, Napoleon is the great culprit, the in- 
carnate spirit of aggression, violence, faithlessness, and 
insolence; with whom peace was impossible. It is, how- 
ever, notorious, and conceded by French writers, that the 
French leaders in 1791 and 1792 wanted war on the Con- 
tinent; 1 the impartial conduct of the British Cabinet was 
admitted by the French Government when acknowledging 
the recall of the British ambassador six months before 
war broke out; 2 the decrees of November 19 and Decem- 
ber 15 are before the reader, as is the refusal of the Con- 
vention to give the former a construction conciliatory to 
Great Britain ; the treaty rights of Holland had been set 
aside by the high hand without an attempt at negotiation, 
and there can be little doubt that the purpose was already 
formed to invade her territory shortly. Despite all this, 

1 Martin, Hist, de France depuis 1789, vol. i. p. 396. 

2 Annual Register, 1793, p. 163. For the correspondence on that occasion 
see A. R. 1792; State Papers, pp. 326, 327. See also letter of Le Brun, 
French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the Moniteur of Aug. 26, 1792. 


not Great Britain, but the Republic, declared war. The 
treatment, by the Convention and the Directory, of the 
lesser states that fell under their power, 1 their dealings 
with Great Britain, their aggressiveness, insolence, and 
bad faith were identical in spirit with the worst that can 
be said of Napoleon; the sole difference being that for a 
weak, incompetent, and many-headed government was sub- 
stituted the iron rule of a single man of incomparable 
genius. Scruples were known to neither. The Berlin 
and Milan decrees, in which was embodied the Continen- 
tal System that led Napoleon to his ruin, were, as he him- 
self said, but the logical development of the Directory's 
decree of January, 1798, 2 against which even the long- 
suffering United States of America rebelled. Both meas- 
ures struck at Great Britain through the hearts of allies 
and of neutrals, for whose rights and welfare, when con- 
flicting with the course France wished to take, they 
showed equal disregard; both were framed in the very 
spirit of the first National (Constituent) Assembly, which 
set aside institutions and conventions that did not square 
with its own ideas of right; which sought justice, as it 
saw it, by overleaping law. 

It is, however, far more important to note, and clearly 

1 The Directory tended to impose upon the smaller states, neighboring to 
or allies of France, republican constitutions, " unitaires " (centralized) in 
form, analogous to our own, as Bonaparte had done for the Cisalpine Re- 
public and for Genoa. It had just done so in Holland, where it had raised 
against the government of the United Provinces r kind of 18th of Fructidor 
(coup d'etat). It now (1798) aimed at revolutionizing Switzerland. Bona- 
parte urged it on. He had already provoked a revolution in a republic near 
to and allied with the Swiss, that of the Orisons. — Martin : Hist, de France 
depuis 1789, vol. iii. p. 7. 

2 Napoleon's remark referred to the edicts of the Directory, confiscating 
British goods wherever found on land ; but it applies equally to the decree of 
January, 1798, which extended the edict to the sea: "Le Directoire ebaucha 
le systeme <lu blocna continental; il ordonna la saisie de toutes les marehan- 
dises Anglaises qui pouvaient se trouver a Mayence et dans les autres pays 
c<>d< ; s a la France." (Commentaires de Napole'on I., Paris, 1867, vol. iii. 
p. 413.) 


to apprehend, that both measures were forced upon the 
rulers of France by the strategic lines of policy laid down 
by the ministry of Pitt. The decree of January, 1798, 
followed close upon the rupture of the peace conferences 
of Lille, initiated by Pitt in 1797 ; a rupture brought on 
by a display of arrogance and insolence on the part of the 
Directory, similar to that shown by it towards the United 
States at the same period, that can only be realized by 
reading the correspondence, 1 and which is now known to 
have been due, in part at least, to the hope of a bribe 
from the British ministry. 2 The Berlin decree, which 
formally began the Continental System, was issued in 
November, 1806, when Pitt had not been a year in his 
grave. Both were forced upon the French leaders by the 
evident hopelessness of reaching Great Britain in any 
other way, and because her policy of war was hurting 
France terribly, while sustaining her own strength. In 
other words, Great Britain, by the strategic direction she 
gave to her efforts in this war, forced the French spirit of 
aggression into a line of action which could not but result 
fatally. 3 But for Bonaparte, the result, nearly attained in 
1795 and again in 1799, would have followed then; not 
even his genius could avert it finally. 

It is related that a leader of antiquity once cried to his 
opponent, " If you are the great general you claim to be, 
why do you not come down and fight me ? " and received 
the pertinent reply, "If you are the great general you 
say, why do you not make me come down and fight you ? " 
This was precisely what Great Britain effected. By the 
mastery of the sea, by -the destruction of the French colo- 
nial system and commerce, by her persistent enmity to 

1 This correspondence, so far as published, is to be found in the -A nnual 
Register for 1797 ; State Papers, pp. 181-223. 

2 See Stanhope's Life of Pitt, vol. ii. p. 224 (ed. 1879). 

3 For a graphic description of the effects of the Berlin decree on the 
Continent, see Fyffe's History of Modern Europe, vol i. p. 328. 


the spirit of aggression which was incarnate in the 
French Revolution and personified in Napoleon, by her 
own sustained and unshaken strength, she drove the 
enemy into the battle-field of the Continental System, 
where his final ruin was certain. Under the feeble rule 
of the Directory that ruin came on apace ; within a year 
it was evident that the only gainer by the system was the 
foe whom it sought to overthrow, that France herself and 
her allies, as well as neutral Powers, were but being 
broken down to the profit of Great Britain. Despite the 
first failure, there was a plausible attraction about the 
measure which led Napoleon, confident in his strength 
and genius, to apply it again with the relentless thorough- 
ness characteristic of his reign. For a time it succeeded, 
owing not only to the vigor with which it was used, but 
also to Great Britain being exasperated into retaliatory 
steps which, by forbidding the trade of neutrals to and 
between all the ports thus closed to British commerce, 
stopped at its source the contraband trade, which eluded 
Napoleon's blockade and kept open the way for British 
exports to the Continent. 

The strain, however, was too great to be endured by the 
great composite political system which the emperor had 
founded, and through which he hoped to exclude his 
enemy from every continental market. The privations of 
all classes, the sufferings of the poorer, turned men's 
hearts from the foreign ruler, who, in the pursuit of aims 
which they neither sympathized with nor understood, was 
causing them daily ills which they understood but too 
well. All were ready to fall away and rise in rebellion 
when once the colossus was shaken. The people of Spain, 
at one extremity of Europe, revolted in 1808 ; the Czar of 
Russia, at the other, threw down the gauntlet in 1810, by 
a proclamation which opened his harbors to all neutral 
ships bringing colonial produce, the object of Napoleon's 
bitterest reclamations. In the one case the people refused 
vol. ir. — 26 


the ruler put over them to insure a more vigorous enforce- 
ment of the continental blockade ; in the other the abso- 
lute monarch declined longer to burden his subjects with 
exactions which were ruining them for the same object. 
The Spanish outbreak gave England a foothold upon the 
Continent at a point most favorable for support by her 
maritime strength and most injurious to the emperor, 
not only from the character of the country and the people, 
but also because it compelled him to divide his forces 
between his most remote frontiers. The defection of the 
czar made a fatal breach in the line of the continental 
blockade, opening a certain though circuitous access for 
British goods to all parts of Europe. Incapable of antici- 
pating defeat and of receding from a purpose once formed, 
Napoleon determined upon war with Russia. He, the 
great teacher of concentration, proceeded to divide his 
forces between the two extremes of Europe. The results 
are well known to all. 

It was not by attempting great military operations on 
land, but by controlling the sea, and through the sea the 
world outside Europe, that both the first and the second 
Pitt ensured the triumph of their country in the two con- 
tests where either stood as the representative of the nation. 
Mistakes were made by both; it was the elder who offered 
to Spain to give Gibraltar for Minorca, which the younger 
recovered by force of arms. Mistakes many may be charged 
against the conduct of the war under the younger; but, 
with one possible exception, they are mistakes of detail 
in purely military direction, which cannot invalidate the 
fact that the general line of action chosen and followed 
was correct. To recur to the simile already borrowed from 
military art, the mistakes were tactical, not strategic ; nor, 
it may be added, to any great degree administrative. 

The possible exception occurred at the beginning of the 
war, in the spring and summer of 1793. It may be, as 
has been claimed by many, that a march direct upon 


Paris at that time by the forces of the Coalition would 
have crushed all opposition, and, by reducing the mob of 
the capital, have insured the submission of the country. 
It may be so; but in criticising the action of the British 
ministers, so far as it was theirs, it must be remembered 
that not only did men of the highest military reputation 
in Europe advise against the movement, but that the 
Duke of Brunswick, then second to none in distinction 
as a soldier, had tried it and failed a few months before. 
For unprofessional men to insist, against the best profes- 
sional opinions at their command, is a course whose pro- 
priety or prudence can only be shown by the event, — a 
test to which the advance upon Paris, now so freely pre- 
scribed by the wisdom of after-sight, was not brought. 
One consideration, generally overlooked, may here be pre- 
sented. To attempt so momentous and hazardous an 
enterprise, when the leaders to whom its conduct must be 
intrusted regard it as unwise, is to incur a great probabil- 
ity of disaster. Even Bonaparte would not force his plans 
upon Moreau, when the latter, in 1800, persisted in 
preferring his own. Yet this must statesmen have done, 
had they in 1793 ordered their generals to advance on 

Once lost, the opportunity, if such it were, did not 
recur. It depended purely upon destroying the resistance 
of France before it had time to organize. Thenceforward 
there remained to encounter, not the policy of a court, 
playing its game upon the chess-board of war, with 
knights and pawns, castles and armies, but a nation in 
arms, breathing a fury and inspired by passions which 
only physical exhaustion could repress, Towards that 
exhaustion Great Britain could on the land side contribute 
effectually only by means of allies, and this she did. On 
the side of the sea, her own sphere of action, there were 
two things she needed to do. The first was to sustain her 
own strength, by fostering, widening, and guarding the 


workings of her commercial system; the second was to 
cut France off from the same sources of strength and life. 
Both were most effectually accomplished, — not, as Macau- 
lay asserts, by the able administration of Earl Spencer 
(whose merit is not disputed), but by the general policy 
of the ministry in the extension of the colonial sytem, in 
the wise attention paid to the support of British commerce 
in all its details, and in the extraordinary augmentation 
of the navy. Between 1754 and 1760, the period embrac- 
ing the most brilliant triumphs of the elder Pitt, the 
British navy increased by 33 per cent. Between 1792 
and 1800, under his son, the increase was 82 per cent. 
How entirely the military management and direction of 
this mighty force depended upon the sea-officers, and not 
upon the statesman, when a civilian was at the head of the 
Admiralty, will be evident to any 'one studying closely the 
slackness of the Channel fleet immediately under the eye 
of Earl Spencer, or the paltry dispositions made in par- 
ticular emergencies like the Irish invasion of 1796, and 
contrasting these with the vigor manifested at that very 
moment under Jervis in the Mediterranean, or later, in 
the admirable operations of the same officer in command of 
the Channel fleet. 

Few indeed are the statesmen who are not thus depen- 
dent upon professional subordinates. Pitt was no excep- 
tion. He was not a general or an admiral, nor does he 
appear so to have considered himself; but he realized per- 
fectly where Great Britain's strength lay, and where the 
sphere of her efforts. By that understanding he guided 
her movements ; and in the final triumph wrought by the 
spirit of the British nation over the spirit of the French 
Revolution, the greatest share cannot justly be denied to 
the chief who, in the long struggle against wind and tide, 
forced often to swerve from the direct course he would 
have followed by unforeseen dangers that rose around the 
ship in her passage through unknown seas, never forgot 


the goal "Security," upon which from the first his will 
was set. Fit indeed it was that he should drop at his 
post just when Trafalgar had been won and Austerlitz 
lost. That striking contrast of substantial and, in fact, 
decisive success with bewildering but evanescent disaster, 
symbolized well his troubled career, as it superficially 
appears. As the helm escaped his dying hands, all 
seemed lost, but in truth the worst was passed. "The 
pilot had weathered the storm." 

The death of Pitt was followed by the formation of a 
ministry of somewhat composite character, centring round 
his relative and former colleague, Lord Grenville, and his 
life-long rival, Fox. This held office but for fourteen 
months; a period long enough for ifc to afford Napoleon 
the pretext for his Berlin decree, but not sufficient to 
impress any radical change upon the main lines of policy 
laid down by Pitt. Upon its fall in March, 1807, his 
devoted personal friends and political followers succeeded 
to power. Confronted almost immediately by the threat- 
ening union between the empires of the East and West, 
of which the known, if concealed, purpose was to divide 
between France and Russia the control of the Continent, 
and to subdue Great Britain also by commercial exhaus- 
tion, the ministry, both necessarily and by tradition, op- 
posed to this combination the policy transmitted to them 
by their great leader. Colonial enterprises were multi- 
plied, until it could be said of colonies, as the French 
Directory had before sorrowfully confessed concerning 
shipping, that not one was left under a flag hostile to 
Great Britain. The navy, expanding to its greatest 
numerical force in 1808, was maintained in equal 
strength, if in somewhat diminished numbers, up to the 
termination of the struggle. While unable to prevent the 
material growth of the French navy by ship-building 
carried on in its ports, Great Britain continued to impede 
its progress and cut off its supplies by the close watch 


maintained over the French coast, by confining its fleets 
to their harbors, — and so shutting them off from the one 
drill ground, the sea, — and finally by frustrating Napo- 
leon's project of increasing his own power by violently 
seizing the vessels of smaller continental states. 

The secure tenure of the great common and highway 
of commerce — the sea — was thus provided for. The 
enemy's navy was neutralized, his bases abroad cut off, 
his possessions became the markets as well as the sources 
of British trade. It was not enough, however, for com- 
merce, that its transit should be comparatively safe. Its 
operations of exchange needed both materials and mar- 
kets, both producers and consumers. From these, as is 
known, Napoleon sought to exclude it by the Continental 
System, which through the co-operation of Russia he 
thought could be rendered effective. To this again the 
ministry of Perceval and Canning opposed the Orders in 
Council, tempered by the license system, with the double 
object of prolonging the resistance of Great Britain and 
sapping that of her enemy ; measures which but repro- 
duced, on a vaster scale, the Rule of 1756, with the modi- 
fications introduced by Pitt, in 1798, for the same ends. 

The question thus resolved itself, as has before been 
perhaps too often said, into a conflict of endurance, 
— which nation could live the longest in this deadly 
grapple. This brings us back again face to face with the 
great consideration : Was the struggle which began in 
1793 one to be solved by a brilliant display of general- 
ship, shattering the organized forces of an ordinary 
enemy, and with it crushing the powers of resistance in 
the state ? Or had it not rather its origin in the fury of 
a nation, against which all coercion except that of ex- 
haustion is fruitless ? The aims, the tendencies, the 
excitement of the French people had risen to a pitch, and 
had made demands, which defied repression by any mere 
machinery or organization, however skilfully framed or 


directed. When the movement of a nation depends 
upon — nay, is the simple evidence of — a profound emo- 
tion permeating each individual of the mass, the mighty 
impulse, from its very diffusion, has not those vital 
centres of power, the destruction of which paralyzes the 
whole. Not till the period of passion — necessarily brief, 
but for the time resistless — has given place to the organi- 
zation to which all social movement tends, is a people 
found to have, as the tyrant of antiquity wished, a single 
neck to be severed by a blow. 

The frenzy of the French nation had spent itself, the 
period of organization had set in, when Bonaparte ap- 
peared upon the scene; but, as the tension of popular 
emotion slackened, there had not been found, in the im- 
perfect organization which sought to replace it, the power 
to bear the burden of the state. No longer able to depend 
upon a homogeneous movement of the millions, but only 
upon the efficient working of the ordinary machinery of 
civil government and armies, in her case most imperfectly 
developed, France now offered to the attacks of her ene- 
mies those vital points, with which, when crushed, resist- 
ance ceases. Military reverses and exhaustion by bad 
government brought her in 1795, and again in 1799, to 
her last gasp. At both epochs Bonaparte saved her. 

The great captain and organizer not only brought vic- 
tory with him and restored the machinery of government; 
he supplied also a centre around which popular enthusi- 
asm and confidence might once more rally. He became 
not only the exponent of national unity, but in a very real 
sense the embodiment of those aspirations and aggressive 
tendencies, which in the. first days of the Revolution had 
bound Frenchmen together as one man, but had afterwards 
evaporated and frittered away for want of that definite- 
ness of aim and sagacious direction which only a great 
lender can impart. Under his skilful manipulation the 
lofty sentiments of the early revolutionists became catch- 


words, which assured his hold upon the imaginations and 
enthusiasm of the people, again swayed as one man to 
follow him in his career of aggression. Metternich well 
said that Bonaparte was to him simply the incarnation 
of the Revolution. 1 

It was with these two phases of one and the same con- 
dition that Europe had to deal between 1793 and 1814. 
In the one instance a people unified by a common passion 
and common aims, in the other the same people concen- 
trated into a common action by submission to the will of a 
sovereign, apparently resistless in the council as in the 
field. It is true that the affections of his subjects soon 
ceased to follow him, except in the armies by whose power 
he ruled, but the result is the same. All the energies of 
the nation are summed up in a single overpowering im- 
pulse, — at first spontaneous, afterwards artificial, — to 
which during the first half of Napoleon's career was 
given a guidance of matchless energy and wisdom. 

Such a combination is for the time irresistible, as the 
continent of Europe proved during long and weary years. 
Absolute power, concentrated force, central position, ex- 
traordinary sagacity and energy, all united to assure to 
Napoleon the dazzling successes which are matters of his- 
tory. The duration and the permanent results of this 
startling career depended, however, upon the staying 
power of the French nation and upon the steadfastness of 
the resistance. Upon the Continent, the latter in its 
actuality ceased. Potentially it remained, — men's hearts 
swelled to bursting under the tyranny they endured ; but 
before the power and the genius of the great conqueror 
outward rebellion shrank away. States dared not trust 
each other, — they could not act together; and so men went 
silently in the bitterness of their spirits. 

There remained one small group of islands, close on the 
flank of the would-be ruler of the world, with a popula- 

1 Metternich's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 65. 


lion numbering little more than half that of his imme- 
diate dominions, whose inhabitants deeply sympathized 
with sufferings and oppression they were powerless 
directly to relieve. The resistance they had offered to 
the aggressive fury of the Revolution they continued to 
oppose to its successor and representative ; but it was not 
by direct action in the field, but only by operations 
aimed to abridge the resources and endurance of France, 
that they could look forward to a possibility of success. 
For seven years went on this final silent strife, whose 
outlines have been traced in the preceding chapter of this 
work. During its continuance Great Britain herself, while 
escaping the political oppression and national humili- 
ation undergone by the continental peoples, drank deep 
of the cup of suffering. Her strength wasted visibly ; but 
the mere fact of her endurance and persistence compelled 
her enemy to efforts more exhausting, to measures more 
fatal, than those forced upon herself. And, while thus 
subjected to a greater strain, Napoleon was by Great 
Britain cut off from that greatest of all sources of 
renewing vitality — the Sea. 

The true function of Great Britain in this long struggle 
can scarcely be recognized unless there be a clear appre- 
ciation of the fact that a really great national movement, 
like the French Revolution, or a really great military 
power under an incomparable general, like the French 
empire under Napoleon, is not to be brought to terms 
by ordinary military successes, which simply destroy the 
organized force opposed. 

Of the latter, the protracted and not wholly hopeless 
resistance, which in 1813 and 1814 succeeded even the 
great Russian catastrophe, is a signal instance; while to 
subvert such a power, wielded by such a man, by any 
reverse less tremendous than it then underwent, is hope- 
less. Two Napoleons do not co-exist. In the former case, 
on the other hand, the tangible something, the decisive 


point against which military effort can be directed, is 
wanting. Of this the struggle between the North and 
South in the American Civil War affords a conspicuous 
example. Few, probably, would now maintain that the 
capture of Richmond in the first year of the war, when 
the enthusiasm of the Southern people was at its height, 
their fighting force undiminished, their hopes undimmed 
by the bitter disappointments of a four years' struggle, 
would have had any decisive effect upon the high-spirited 
race. Positions far more important fell without a sign of 
such result. No man could then have put his finger here, 
or there, and said, " This is the key-stone of resistance ; " 
for in the high and stern feeling of the moment resist- 
ance was not here nor there, but everywhere. 

So was it in the early flush of the French Revolution. 
The " On to Paris " of 1793 would probably have had no 
more decisive results than the " On to Richmond " of 1861, 
had it been successful. Not till enthusiasm has waned 
before sorrow, and strength failed under exhaustion, does 
popular impulse, when deep and universal, acquiesce in 
the logic of war. To such exhaustion France was brought 
when Bonaparte took the helm. By his organizing genius 
he restored her military strength, the material of which 
still remained, economized such resources as the Avasteful- 
ness of preceding governments had left, and above all 
secured for her a further power of endurance by drawing 
upon the life-blood of surrounding nations. So exhaustion 
was for the time postponed ; but, if the course of aggres- 
sion which Bonaparte had inherited from the Revolution 
was to continue, there were needed, not the resources of 
the Continent only, but of the world. There was needed 
also a diminution of ultimate resistance below the stored- 
up aggressive strength of France ; otherwise, however 
procrastinated, the time must come when the latter 
should fail. 

On both these points Great Britain withstood Napoleon. 


She shut him off from the world, and by the same act pro- 
longed her own powers of endurance beyond his power of 
aggression. This in the retrospect of history was the 
function of Great Britain in the Revolutionary and Napo- 
leonic period; and that the successive ministries of Pitt 
and his followers pursued the course best fitted, upon 
the whole, to discharge that function, is their justifica- 
tion to posterity. It is the glory of Pitt's genius that as 
he discovered the object, "Security," so likewise he 
foresaw the means, Exhaustion, by which alone the 
French propaganda of aggression would be brought to 
pause. The eloquent derision poured upon his predictions 
of failure from financial exhaustion, from expenditure of 
resources, from slackening of enthusiasm, recoils from the 
apprehension of the truth. He saw clearly the line of 
Great Britain's action, he foresaw the direction of events, 
he foretold the issue. How long the line would be, how 
the course of events would be retarded, how protracted the 
issue, he could not foretell, because no man could foresee 
the supreme genius of Napoleon Bonaparte. 


Acre, Siege of, by Bonaparte, i 294- 

Alexander, Czar of Russia, succeeds 
to the throne, ii. 55 ; Convention 
with Great Britain, June, 1801, 57 ; 
coolness toward Bonaparte, 69, and 
note ; joint action with Bonaparte 
in German indemnities, 84 ; condi- 
tions required before guaranteeing 
status of Malta, 92 ; attitude upon 
the execution of the Due d'Knghien, 
129, 177; joins Third Coalitiou, 177; 
defeated at Austerlitz, 182; com- 
mercial policy, 200; campaign of 
Eylau and Friedland, 273 ; Treaty 
of Tilsit, 274, 310; meeting at Er- 
furt, 293, war with Sweden, 293; 
joint letter with Napoleon to king 
of Great Britain, 294 ; attitude 
toward the Continental System, 303, 
324,329; peace with Sweden, 316; 
uneasiness at extension of French 
empire, 324 ; dissatisfaction at the 
annexation of Oldenburg, 330; dis- 
agreement with Napoleon concern- 
ing the Continental System, 344, 
401 ; understanding reached with 
Great Britain and Sweden, 347 ; 
peace with Turkey, 350; attacked 
by Napoleon, 351. 

Antwerp, commercial isolation of, in 
1780, i. 9 ; naval importance of, 15 ; 
development under Napoleon as a 
naval arsenal, 377. 

A rated Neutrality, of 1800, signature 
and affirmations of, ii. 36 ; dissolu- 
tion of, 57. 

Austria, natural ally of Great Britain, 
i. 12 ; quarrel with Holland about 
the Scheldt, 17; war with Turkey, 
1788, 19; successes, 24; peace with 
Turkey, 25; joins in Declaration of 
l'ilnitz, 28; war with France, 29; 
driven from Netherlands, 1792, 31 ; 
jealousy of Prussia, 80 ; holds Ital- 

ian duchies, 84 ; successes in 1793, 
93 ; mistakes, 94 ; reverses, 103, 168 ; 
forced to retire across the Rhine in 
1794, 169,171 ; strengthens alliance 
with Great Britain, 172; successes 
of 1795, 181-183 ; campaign in 
Italy, 1795, 195-198; reverses in 
Italy, 1796, 209-212, 216, 217, 233; 
signs preliminaries of Leoben, 234 ; 
Treaty of Campo Formio, Austrian 
gains and losses, 250 ; dissatisfac- 
tion at French occupation of Rome, 
279; tumult in Vienna, 280; alli- 
ance with Naples and Russia, 1798, 
282 ; renewal of war with France, 
ii. 3 ; successes in Switzerland and 
Italy, 4-8 ; defeat at battle of Zurich, 
1799, 9 ; refusal to treat with Bona- 
parte, 16; disastrous campaigns of 
1800 in Germany and Italy, 19-24 , 
negotiations with Great Britain and 
France, 25 ; armistice with France, 
25, 35 ; renewal of hostilities and 
defeat of Hohenliuden, 38 ; Peace 
of Lune'ville, 39 ; loss of power by 
German indemnities, 84 ; joins Third 
Coalition, 177-179; disastrous cam- 
paign of Austerlitz, 181 ; Peace of 
Presburg, 182; accedes to the Con- 
tinental System, 1807, 278; prepa- 
rations to renew the war, 297 ; war 
with France in 1809,314-316 ; Peace 
of Vienna and renewed exclusion 
of British goods, 316. 

Barham, Lord, First Lord of Admi- 
ralty, 168; masterly action of, be- 
fore Trafalgar, 169, 174. 

Battles, land, Aboukir, i. 322 ; Areola, 
i. 233 ; Austerlitz, ii. 182 ; Badajos, 
ii. 349 ; Castiglione, i. 233 ; Ciudad 
Rodrigo, ii. 348; Eckmuhl, ii, 315, 
Essling, ii. 316; Eylau, ii. 273; 
Fleurus, i. 168; Friedland, ii. 274; 
Jena, ii. 270; Jemappes, i. 31 ; Lodi, 



i. 210 ; Loano, i. 198 ; Marengo, ii. 
23; Pyramids, i. 277 ; Rivoli, i. 233, 
243 ; Talavera, ii. 315 ; Valmy, i. 30 ; 
Wagram, ii. 316 ; Wattignies, i. 103. 

Battles, sea, Algesiras, ii. 63-66 ; 
Camperdown, i. 378 ; Copenhagen, 
ii. 47-51 ; First of June, i. 126-155; 
Hothara and Martin, i. 190-194; 
lie Groix, i. 177 ; Nile, i. 261-277 ; 
St. Vincent, i. 221-229; Irafalgar, 
ii. 185-195. 

Btttesworth, captain, British navy, for- 
tunate meeting with combined lieets 
in June, 1805, ii. 163, 167. 

Bonaparte, .Napoleon, interest in the 
East, i. 14 , influence upon course 
of events, 183 ; appointed to com- 
mand Army of Italy, 203 ; success- 
ful campaign of 1796, 207-211 ; de- 
signs upon Corsica, 213 ; opinion of 
the effect of British Mediterranean 
tieet upon his operations, 217 ; criti- 
cal position in Italy, May, 1796-Feb. 
1797, 233 ; fall of Mantua, 233 ; ad 
vances into Carinthia, 234 ; signs 
preliminaries of Leoben, 234 ; of- 
fence at action of the Council of 
Five Hundred, 244 ; sends Augereau 
to support coip d'etat, 244; deep 
projects for maritime and Oriental 
expansion, 246-249 ; signs Treaty 
of Campo Formio, 250; opinion of 
danger to France from British Sea 
Power, 251 ; return to Paris and 
command of Army of England, 252 ; 
Egyptian expedition organized, 253 ; 
sails from Toulon, 256 ; captures 
Malta, and sails thence for Egypt, 
257 ; lands at Alexandria, 260 ; or- 
ders concerning the disposition of 
the fleet, 261-263 ; criticism of 
Nelson's conduct, 275 ; conquest 
of Lower Egypt, 277 ; objects in 
Egyptian undertaking, 288 ; Syrian 
expedition, 290 ; siege of Acre, 299 ; 
retreat into Egypt, 302 ; criticisms 
upon Sir Sidney Smith, 303 , de- 
feats Turks at Aboukir, 322 ; re- 
turn* to France, 324; ii. 15,260; criti 
cism upon his Oriental projects, i. 
324-328 ; attempts to send relief to 
Egypt and Malta, 329-331 ; views 
as to condition of French in Egypt, 
332 ; views as to relative importance 
of Brest and Antwerp, 377 ; policy 
as first consul, ii. 15, 20; campaign 
of Marengo, 22 ; negotiations with 
Austria and Great Britain, 1800, 25, 

34, 35, 38-40 ; overtures to the Czar, 
29, 32, 37; to Prussia, 28, 31 ; ef 
forts to form a coalition against 
Great Britain, 25-37 ; Mediterra- 
nean projects, 1800-1801, 59-68 ; 
anxiety for maritime peace, 70 , 
sends expedition to Haiti, 78 ; pres- 
ident of Cisalpine republic, 80 ; 
first consul for life, 83 ; aggressions 
in 1802, 84-90; insults to Great 
Britain, 93-96 ; projects against 
Great Britain, 1803, 100; prepara- 
tions to invade England, 102, 105, 
111-117; invasion of Hanover and 
Naples, 109-111 ; first combinations 
to invade England, 124 ; becomes 
emperor, May, 1804, 130. See also 

Boulogne, point of concentration for 
Bonaparte's flotilla for invasion of 
England, ii. 113; preparations at, 
114; strategic value of, 116; ap- 
pearance in 1814, 182. 

Brest, character and surroundings of 
the port, i. 304, 305, 342-344 ; meth- 
ods of watching observed by Howe 
and Bridport, 345, 346, 364-367 ; 
St. Vincent's methods, 368-376 ; 
paralysis as a port of equipment, 
376 ; Napoleon's preference for 
Antwerp, 377. 

Bridport, Lord, British admiral, suc- 
ceeds Howe in command of Channel 
fleet, i. 165; action of lie Groix, 
177 ; escape of the French fleet 
from Brest, 1799, 305; method of 
watching Brest, 345, 346 ; French 
expedition against Ireland, 360- 
367 , anecdote of, 368 , relieved in 
command by St. Vincent, 368. 

Bmei/s, French admiral, commands 
French division in Adriatic, i. 252, 
255; designs upon Malta in 1798, 
255 ; appointed to command fleet in 
Egyptian expedition, 253 ; negligent 
conduct of, 262, 263 ; inadequate 
preparations for defence, 264-266 ; 
Battle of the Nile, 266-272 ; killed, 

Bruix, French admiral, escape from 
Brest with twenty-five ships-of-the- 
line, in 1799, i. 305; enters Medi- 
terranean, 307 ; action in Mediter- 
ranean, 312-315 ; re-enters Atlantic 
accompanied by sixteen Spanish 
ships, 315; reaches Brest, 316; 
comments on this cruise, 318; in- 
structions of Bonaparte to, in 1800, 



ii. 60-63; connection with invasion 
flotilla, and death, 130. 

Calder, British admiral, ordered to 
command a detached squadron, ii. 
168; action with combined fleets, 
171 ; court-martial upon, 174. 

Catharine, Empress of Russia, influ- 
ence upon Joseph II., Emperor of 
Germany, i. 1 1 ; relations with Aus- 
tria and France, 1784, 16, 17 ; naval 
undertakings, 1788, 20, attitude 
toward French Revolution, 82, 243 ; 
ii. 233 ; death, i. 243. 

Chauvelin, French ambassador to 
Great Britain, disputes with Brit- 
ish ministry, i. 32-34 ; dismissed 
from Great Britain, 34. 

Coll nig wood, British admiral, remarks 
of, i. 70, 71, 75, 309 (note); atten- 
tion to health of crew, 71 ; distin- 
guished share in battle of Cape St. 
Vincent, 227 ; blockade off Roche- 
fort, ii. 118; ordered to West Indies 
with eight ships in 1805, 155, 157 ; 
blockade of Cadiz, 157, 159, 167, 
175, 180; surmise as to Napoleon's 
intentions, 156 ; brilliant conduct at 
Trafalgar, 191 ; succeeds to com- 
mand after Nelson's death, 195. 

Commerce, warfare against, ii., chaps, 
xvii. and xviii. 

Commerce -destroying, by scattered 
cruisers, i. 179' 326-328, 335-338; 
ii. 199-218, 221-228. 

Cornwall is, British admiral, action 
with superior French fleet, i. 177 ; 
tenacity in maintaining Brest block- 
ade, 373, 376; ii. 98, 118, 119, 123, 
128, 148, 153; orders to detach 
squadron under Calder to meet 
Villeneuve, 168; joined by Calder 
and Nelson, 174; mistake in di- 
viding his force, 176. 

Corsica, acquired by France in 1769, i. 
88 ; relations to France and to Great 
Britain, 88 ; revolt against the Con- 
vention, 88 , French expelled by 
British, 187; union with Great 
Britain proclaimed, 188; difficulties 
of government by Great Britain, 
188, 189 ; value of the island, 179, 
186 ; Bonaparte's measures to re- 
cover, 213, 216; evacuated by the 
British, 216; contributes a detach- 
ment to Egyptian Expedition, 254, 

Da rout, French marshal, battle of 
Eckmuhl, ii. 314 ; charged with 
maintenance of Continental Sys- 
tem, 317 ; command in Prussia and 
llanse towns, 319; injunctions of 
Napoleon to, 337, note. 

Decrees, French, of Fraternity, Nov. 
19, 1792, i. 31, ii. 361 ; extending 
French system, Dec. 15, 1792, i. 32, 
ii. 367 ; affecting neutral carriers, 
ii. 231, 234, 242-246; confiscating 
ships earning goods of British 
origin, January, 1 798, 249, 250, 254- 
259; Napoleon's Berlin, 271-273, 
281; Milan, 290; Bayonne and 
Rambouillet, 291, 292 ; general 
seizure of goods of British origin, 
August, 1810, 324; public burning 
of British manufactures, (Jet. 19, 
1810, 327. 

De Galles, Morard, French admiral, 
commands Brest fleet in 1793, i. 61- 
63 ; conduct in the mutiny of that 
year, 62 ; opiuions as to the effi- 
ciency of the seamen, 61 ; commands 
naval part of Irish Expedition, 1796, 

Denmark, hostility to SAveden, i. 21 ; in- 
vades Sweden, 1788,21 ; stopped by 
Great Britain and Prussia, 22, 25 ; 
seeks the commercial advantages of 
neutrality in French Revolution, 
83 ; loss of West India colonies, 
121 ; quarrel with Great Britain 
about rights of convoy, ii. 26 . 
Bonaparte tries to conciliate, 30, 
joins Armed Neutrality of 1800, 36; 
British expedition against, 41-47; 
battle of Copenhagen, 47-51 ; armis- 
tice with Great Britain, 51, and con- 
vention, 58 ; Napoleon's designs 
against, 276 ; second British expe- 
dition and bombardment of Copen- 
hagen, 277 ; shares in Continental 
System, 301 ; privateering by Da- 
nish seamen, 313 ; deprived of 
Norway, 350. 

De Rions, D' Albert, French commo- 
dore, mobbed by the populace of 
Toulon, i. 41-44 ; commands Brest 
fleet in mutiny of 1 790, 45 ; leaves 
the navy and emigrates, 46 ; Suf- 
fren's high opinion of, 46. 

Devins, Austrian general, inefficiency 
of, in 1795 in Italy, i. 195-198. 

Directory, established as French ex 
ecutive government, i. 175, 176 ; ar- 
rogance toward foreign states, 240- 



242 ; disasters and incompetency of, 
ii. 1-14 ; overthrown by Bonaparte, 
15 ; identity of spirit with Napo- 
leon, 258, 354, 396, 398. 
Dumouriez, French general, wins bat- 
tles of Valmy and Jemappes, i. 30, 
31, 89; defeated at Neerwinden and 
driven from Holland and Nether- 
lands, 89 ; treason of, 89. 

Egypt, nominal dependence upon Tur 
key under the Mamelukes, i. 85 ; 
genesis of Bonaparte's expedition 
to, 246-249 ; conquest of, by the 
French, 260, 277, 288-290; Bona- 
parte's purpose in the enterprise, 
288; loss of, by rhe French, 330- 
334 ; Kleber's opinion of the value 
of, 331 ; tenure dependent upon 
control of the sea, 331, 332, ii. 60- 
63 ; restored to Turkey, ii. 72 ; con- 
dition under Turkish rule, 94, 150 ; 
Nelson's apprehensions for, 124-127; 
his search for the French fleet in 
Alexandria, 1805, 144. 

Elba, island of, seized by British, 
though a possession of Tuscany, i. 
213; evacuated, 220 ; transferred to 
France at Peace of Amiens, ii. 82. 

Elliott, Sir Gilbert, British Viceroy of 
Corsica, i. 187, 188, 213; quoted, 
188, 217, 218 ; returns to England, 

Flotilla, for invasion of England, nura 
bers and character of, ii. 111-116; 
estimate of, as a fighting force by 
British naval officers and Napoleon, 
120-122; ultimate fate of, 182. 

Fox, British statesman, opinion as to 
" free ships, free goods," ii. 261 ; 
minister of foreign affairs, 1806, 
269; modification of Rule of 1756 
by Order in Council of May, 1806, 
270 ; death, 270 ; praise of French 
soldiery, 365 ; disparagement of 
Pitt, 387. 

France, results of war of 1778 to, i. 3, 
4; condition of, in 1789, 6; policy 
of, as to Sweden, Poland, and Tur- 
key, 13 ; interest in the Levant and 
the Baltic, 14, 22 ; interest in Nether- 
lands, 15, and Holland, 16-18; al- 
liance with Holland, 1785, 18; 
increasing internal disorder, 18, 24, 
meeting of States General, 25 ; out- 
line of events in the Revolution to 
Feb. 1, 1793, 28-33; declares war 

against Austria, 29, and against 
Great Britain and Holland, 34 ; 
condition of the navy in 1793, and 
causes thereof, 35-68 ; comparative 
strength of British and French 
fleets, 75, 110; acquisition and 
status of Corsica, 88 ; internal con- 
flicts in 1793, 89-92; disasters on 
eastern frontiers, 93 ; energy shown 
by the government, 93-96 ; disasters 
retrieved in 1793, 103; internal re- 
bellions quelled, 104, 105; condition 
and importance of West India 
Islands, 111, 114, 115; contest over 
West India Islands, 115-119; 
scarcity of provisions, 1793, 122; 
convoy of provisions ordered from 
America, 122 ; internal events, 1794, 
166-168 ; military successes in 1794, 
168-171; conquest of Belgium and 
Holland, 170; peace with Prussia, 
Holland, and Spain, 172 ; reaction 
of 1795, 173, 174; internal disor- 
ders, 175, 176; great fleets with- 
drawn from the sea, and policy of 
commerce-destroying adopted, 179, 
201 ; military weakness in 1795, 
180-183; loses Corsica, 1794, 187; 
successes in Italy, 1795-1796, 198, 
209-211, 233, 234; regains Corsica, 
216; brings Austria to peace, 234, 
250 ; arrogance toward foreign gov- 
ernments, 240-243 ; reactionary dis- 
orders, 243 ; coup d'etat of Sept. 
3, 1797, 244; danger from Great 
Britain, 251 ; sends expedition to 
Egypt, 253 ; capture of Malta by, 
257'; naval defeat at the Nile, 263- 
277 ; subjugation of Egypt by, 277, 
289; aggressions upon Holland and 
Switzerland, 278 ; offence given to 
Naples, Austria, and Russia, 280- 
282 ; reverses in the Mediterranean, 
1798, 287; expectations from con- 
quest of Egypt, 288 ; reverses in 
Europe, 1799^ 323, ii. 3-11, 407 ; loss 
of Malta and Egypt, i. 328-334; 
maritime impotence of, 335-338, 
ii. 202 ; expeditions against Ireland, 
i. 346-380 ; conquest of Naples, ii. 
2; internal disorders, 1799, 11-15; 
Bonaparte first consul, 15; success- 
ful campaign of 1800, 19-24; mari- 
time and colonial exhaustion, 1800, 
25, 35 ; peace of Lune'ville with 
Austria, 39 ; fruitless attempts to 
control Mediterranean, 59-68 ; pre- 
liminaries of peace with Great 



Britain, 71-73, exhaustion of na- 
tional spirit of aggression, 74 ; 
aggressions of Bonaparte, 1801- 
1803 76-97 ; cession of Louisiana 
by Spain. 77 ; Peace of Amiens 
with Great Britain, 81 ; renewal of 
war, 98 ; Louisiana ceded to United 
States, 10-4 ; maritime and financial 
weakness, 106-108; occupation of 
Hanover ami heel of Italy, 109-111 ; 
preparations for invasion of Eng- 
land, 111-117; exactions from 
Spain, 133; Trafalgar campaign, 
140-181 ; its chances of success dis- 
cussed, 182-184; necessity of in- 
vading England, 184; campaign of 
181)") and battle of Austerlitz, 181; 
naval defeat of Trafalgar, 187-195; 
far-reaching consequences of this 
battle, 196; succeeded by the Con- 
tinental Svstem, 197-200; activity 
of privateers, 207-210; characteris- 
tics of privateering, in Europe, 208, 
in Atlantic, 210, in West Indies, 
212, in East Indies, 215-218; de- 
struction of French commerce, 218- 
220, 375 ; bitterness against Great 
Britain and maritime neutrals, 230; 
anger against United States, 239 ; 
measures directed against neutral 
carriers, 242-248, 250-254; results 
of these measures, 254-258; quasi 
war with the United States, 258 ; 
true commercial policy of, 262-265, 
280, 354 ; commercial measures of 
Napoleon, 265 ; Berlin Decree, 271 ; 
campaign against Russia, 273, 
Peace of Tilsit, 274; invasion of 
Portugal, 277 ; Milan Decree, 290; 
war in Spain, 292 ; war with Aus- 
tria, 1809, 314; excessive prices in, 
322 ; internal distress of, 333-337, 
340-342. 349 ; want of credit, 339, 
343 ; disputes with Russia, 344 ; in- 
vasion of Russia, 351 ; analysis of 
commercial measures of Napoleon, 
351-357 ; temper and aims of lead- 
ers in French Revolution, 359-363, 
367, 384, also 74 ; decrees of Novem- 
ber 19, 361, and December 15, 367; 
effect of the maritime war upon 
French industry, 395 ; identity of 
spirit in the Republic, the Direc- 
tory, and in Napoleon, 396-399 ; 
the struggle with Great Britain 
one of endurance, 406 ; similarity of 
characteristics in the external action 
of France from 1793-1812, 407-411 ; 

vol ii —27 

continued vitality of the movement 
due to Bonaparte, 407, 408. 

Ganteaume, French admiral, report 
of condition of French naval offi- 
cers and seamen, 1801, i. 65 ; 
injuries received by squadron un- 
der his command, 67 ; commerce- 
destroving cruise in 1795, 202; 
brings" Bonaparte back from Egypt 
to i rauce, 323 ; escape from Brest 
in 1801, 376, ii. 61 ; failure to re- 
lieve Egypt, 62 ; maritime prefect 
at Toulon, 1803, 125; command of 
Brest fleet, 1804, and instructions 
from Napoleon, 131, 147 ; modified 
instructions, 149 ; unable to escape 
from Brest, 153; awaits Villeneuve 
outside the Goulet, 154. 
Genoa, coasting trade with Southern 
France, i. 195, 200, ii. 7; French 
intrigues in, i. 201, 213; prepara- 
tions in, for Egyptian Expedition 
254, 257 ; organized as Republic of 
Liguria by Bonaparte, 278, 279; 
Admiral Bruix reinforces, 313, ii 
5, 6 ; Massena besieged in, 20-23 ; 
made a military division of France, 
69, note. 85; annexed to France, 
177; effect of this measure upon 
Austria, 177. 
Gravina, Spanish admiral, commands 
the allied rear at the battle of Tra- 
falgar, ii. 187, 188, 194. 
Great Britain, importance of her action 
against France, i. 1 ; results to, of 
War of 1778, 3, 8 ; recovery of pros- 
perity under second Pitt, 5 ; impor- 
tance to, of public confidence in 
Pitt, 6 ; attitude toward Russia, 
1770-1790, and interest in the Le- 
vant and Baltic, 10-17, 20-23, 25, 
27 ; relations to Holland and the 
Netherlands, 15-17, 19, 21,32; re- 
lations to Turkey, 12, 22-24; alli- 
ance with Prussia and Holland, 
19, 21, 22, 25; refuses to interfere 
in' French Revolution, 1791, 29; 
change of feeling in, 30; recalls 
her ambassador from Paris, 32 , 
dismisses French ambassador, 34 , 
war declared against, by France, 
34; influence of, 1793-1815, 68; 
condition of naw in 1793, 69-75 ; 
policy of, in Avar of French Revo- 
lution, 81 ; takes possession of Tou- 
lon, 92 ; unpreparedness of, in 1793, 
96 ; military and naval policy, 97- 



103; evacuates Toulon, 105; effect 
produced by, in Peninsular War, 
106 (note) ; importauce of West In- 
dies to, 109-111; mistaken action 
in Haiti, 111-113, 116; reduces the 
Lesser Antilles, 115; reverses and 
loss of Guadaloupe, 116-119; suf- 
ferings of West India trade, 120; 
takes Trinidad, 120; and other 
West India colonies, 121 ; takes 
part in Continental War as ally of 
Holland, 93 ; withdraws from Hoi 
land, 169, 170; injury to, from 
French conquest of Holland, 170; 
war with Holland and capture of 
Dutch colonies, 170; new treaties 
with Austria and Russia, 172; in- 
terests and policy in Mediterranean, 
185, 186 ; political union of Corsica 
with, 188; abandons Corsica. 215; 
impolicy of evacuating Mediterra- 
nean, 217, 218 ; depression of, in 
1797, 229 ; effect of battle of Cape 
St. Vincent, 231 ; security due to 
sea power, 236 ; negotiations for 
peace, 1796, 240; in 1797, 245; 
naval successes of 1797, 255; re 
solve again to dispute control of 
Mediterranean, 256 ; joins Second 
Coalition, 282; frustrates Bona- 
parte's Oriental projects, 324 ; de- 
pendence upon sea power, 327 ; 
policy of, for protection of com- 
merce, 337, ii. 203-205; expedi- 
tion against Holland, 1799, ii. 8-10; 
prosperity of, in 1800, 17-19, 227- 
231 ; collision with northern states 
about neutral rights, 26-37, 260- 
262; Baltic Expedition of 1801, 
41-57 ; conventions with Baltic- 
powers, 57, 58, 261 ; influence of 
sea power, 69, 74 ; peace with 
France, 71-75, 81 ; remonstrance 
with Bonaparte upon his interven- 
tion in Switzerland, 88-90; strained 
relations with France, 90-97 ; re- 
newal of war, 98 ; unanimity of 
British people, 99 ; policy of renew- 
ing the war, 105-108; measures for 
resisting invasion, 117-122; quarrel 
with Spain, 1804, 133-139; naval 
dispositions, 1805, 148; insight of 
naval authorities, 157-159, 166; 
effect upon the fortunes of Napo- 
leon. 184, 196-201 ; control of sea 
by, 21 8 ; losses by capture, 221-227 ; 
dependence upon neutral carrier, 
229-231 ; restrictions upon neutral 

trade, 233-239, 240-242; Jay's 
treaty with, 237 ; prosperity of 
trade, 249-254 ; general policv as 
to neutral trade. 262, 266-268 ; 
seizures of American ships, 1805, 
269 ; blockade of coast of Europe, 
269 ; Order in Council of January, 
1807, 275; expedition against Den- 
mark, 1807, 276; Orders in Council 
of November, 1807, 283-290; land- 
ing in Portugal, 292 ; supports 
Spanish revolt, 294 ; operations in 
Peninsula, 296, 315, 318, 343, 348, 
also i. 106-108; seizure of Heligo- 
land, 302; conditions of trade, 1806- 
1812, 304-306, 329-333, 340-342, 
354, 373, 377-382 ; License System, 
308-313 ; ( )rder in Council of April, 
1809, 313; credit of, 339; internal 
condition, 340; influence in Baltic, 
346 ; policy and rightfulness of the 
Orders in Council, 351-357 ; influ- 
ence upon the French Revolution 
and Empire, chap. xix. 

Haiti, French colony, early revolu- 
tionary disorders in, i. 47-49, 111 ; 
British operations in, 111-113, 116; 
rule of Toussaint L'Ouverture, 113; 
base of privateering, 120; Bona- 
parte's expedition against, ii. 78 ; 
its reverses, 94 ; dependence upon 
American continent, 103 ; loss of, 
to France, 103. 

Hamburg, commercial importance of, 
during French Revolutionary wars, 
i. 253, ii. 28, 108-110, 250, 251, 299, 
301, 378; Cuxhaven occupied by 
Prussian troops, 36 ; occupied In- 
Danish troops, 54 ; JSapoleon's 
grudge against, 279 ; imperial troops 
quartered on, 319 ; confiscations of 
colonial produce, 324, 325 ; annexed 
to French empire, 330. 

Hanover, commercial importance to 
Great Britain, i. 253, ii. 110,266; 
Prussian designs upon, ii. 35, 110; 
occupied by Prussian troops, 54 ; 
evacuated, "68 ; occupied by Bona- 
parte, 109 ; offered by Bonaparte to 
Prussia, 179. 

Hoche, French general, commanding 
army of Sambre and Meuse, i. 240, 
377 ; anxiety about reactionary 
movements in France, 244 ; pacifi- 
cation of La Vendee, 347 ; com- 
mands expedition against Ireland, 



347-360; interest iu a second expe- 
dition, and death, 378. 

Holland, weakness of, in 1781, i. 7, 
fall of harrier towns and quarrel 
about the Scheldt, 7, 9, 16-18; re- 
lations to Great Britain and France, 
1783-1793, 17-19 ; relations to Rus- 
sia, 16, 20; occupied by Prussian 
troops, 1787, 19 ; defensive alliance 
with Great Britain and Prussia, 
1788, 21, ii. 363, 384, 393; the 
Scheldt opened, i. 31, ii. 362 ; France 
declares war against, 1793, i. 34 ; 
condition of navy, 78 ; course of, in 
French Revolution, 83 ; colonies of, 
83 ; invasion of, by Dumouriez, 1793, 
89 ; invasion and conquest by Piche- 
gru, 1795, 169; fall of stacltholder, 
and republic proclaimed, 170; war 
with Great Britain and loss of col- 
onies, 170, ii. 375, 394 (see also 
West Indies, pp. 109-121); treaty 
of offensive and defensive alliance 
with France, i. 172; centralized 
constitution imposed by France, 
278; contemplated invasion of Ire- 
land from, 378 ; naval defeat at 
Camperdown, 378 ; compelled to 
war against Great Britain by Bona- 
parte in 1803, ii. Ill ; share in Bo- 
naparte's projected invasion of Eng- 
land, 119, 131, 133, 147, 164, 165; 
base of commerce-destroying, 207, 
216; demands upon the United 
States to resist seizure of belliger- 
ent property, 247 ; confiscation of 
goods of British origin ordered by 
Bonaparte, 1803, 265 , confiscations 
<>f American ships by Bonaparte, 
292, 320, 321 ; Louis Bonaparte 
crowned king, 299 ; withstands Na- 
poleon's Continental Svstem, 300, 
305,318, 320; continuous blockade 
by British navy, 313; Louis abdi- 
cates and Holland is annexed to 
French Empire, 321 ; commercial 
ruin of, 1811, 336. 

Hood, Lord, British admiral, com- 
mands Mediterranean fleet, i. 96 ; 
receives surrender of Toulon, 92; 
forced to evacuate the port, 105 ; 
retires to Hyeres Bay, 106; con- 
quest of Corsica, 187 ; merit of, 207 ; 
returns to England, 189; succeeded 
by Jervis, 194, 203, tactical dispo- 
tions at St. Kitt's, in 1782, compared 
to those of Brueys in Aboukir Bay, 

Hot ham, British admiral, commands 
in Mediterranean, 1795, i. 190-194; 
sluggishness of, 192, 199-202, 207. 

Howe, Earl, British admiral, com- 
mands Channe fleet, i. 96 ; military 
character and naval policy of, 101 ; 
naval campaign of 1794 and battle 
of June 1, 125-160; admirable tac- 
tics of, 135, 149, 160 ; strategic error 
of, 156-159; retires from active 
service, 164; opinion concerning 
Battle of the Nile, 273 ; conduct of 
Brest blockade and Channel service, 
162, 338-346. 

Ionian islands (Corfu and others), pos- 
sessions of Venice in 1793, and sub- 
sequent transfers, i. 86, 235 ; Bona- 
parte's desire for, 247-249 (and 
note) ; transferred to France by 
treaty of Campo Formio, 250, 251 ; 
indicated by Bonaparte as station 
for French fleet, 262 ; taken from 
France by Russo-Turkish fleet, 286, 
ii. 10 ; constituted Republic of Seven 
Islands by peace of 1801, 71 ; trans- 
ferred to France by Treaty of Tilsit, 

Ireland, French expedition against, 
1796, i. 346-361 ; in 1798, 37§-380 ; 
Bonaparte's designs against, ii. 124, 
131 ; British auxietv about, 156, 160, 
171, 386; also, i. 306. 

Italy, lack of political unity in, i. 81, 
84, 185; interest of Great Britain 
in, 185, 186; campaign of 1795 in, 
195-198; part of the British fleet 
in the campaign, 199-201 ; Bona- 
parte's campaign of 1796 in, 208- 
211, 233-236; French reverses in 
1799, ii. 3-10; campaign of Maren- 
go, 20-23 ; Bonaparte's designs in, 
in 1800, 59, 80, 85, 86; occupation 
of Naples, 1803, 109, 112, 124; Na- 
poleon crowned king of, 153; com- 
mercial orders of Napoleon, 325, 

Jay, John, United States envoy to 
Great Britain, ii. 237; Treaty of 
Commerce and Navigation negoti- 
ated by, 237-239 ; anger of French 
government, 239, 240, 244. 

Jervis, British admiral. See St. Vin- 

Joseph II., Emperor of Germany, suc- 
ceeds Maria Theresa, 1780, i. 7, 
raises the question of the Scheldt, 



9, 17, 18 ; attempts to exchange the 
Netherlands for Bavaria, 18 ; de- 
clares war against Turkey, 19 ; dies, 
Jourdan, French general, commands 
army of Sambre and Meuse, 1794, 
i. 168 ; wins battle of Fleurus, 168; 
pursuit of Austrians, 169; opera- 
tions of, 1795, 180-182 ; disasters in 
1796, 213, 216; command in Ger- 
many in 1799, ii. 3; defeated at 
Stokach, 3 ; resigns command, 4. 

Keith, British admiral, commands 
naval division watching Cadiz, i. 
286 ; unexpected appearance of 
French fleet under Bruix, 1799, 
307 ; recalled to Gibraltar, 310 ; 
sails in pursuit of Bruix, 312; left 
in command of fleet by St. Vincent, 
312 ; further pursuit of French fleet, 
312-316; returns to Torbay, 316; 
returns to Mediterranean as com- 
mander-in-chief, 316, 329 ; conduct 
of pursuit examined, 320, 321 ; let- 
ter to Kleber, 333 ; operations 
against French in Egypt, 1801, ii. 
60, 62 ; commands squadron in the 
Downs, 1803-1805, 120,148; report 
of captures in Mediterranean, 219. 

Kleber, French general, left by Bona- 
parte in command in Egypt, i. 331 ; 
opinion as to dependence of Egypt 
upon the navy, 331 ; Convention of 
El Arish, 332 "; letter from Admiral 
Keith, 333 ; assassinated, 334. 

Leopold, Emperor of Germany, suc- 
ceeds Joseph II., i. 25 ; makes peace 
with Turkey, 26 ; joins Prussia in 
Declaration of Pilnitz, 28. 

Levant, the, advance of Russia in, i. 
10-12 ; commercial and political im- 
portance of, 11; interest of France 
in, 12, 14 ; interest of Great Britain 
in, 23 ; interest of Bonaparte in, 
247-253, ii. 95. 

License Si/stem, of Great Britain, ii. 
307-313; of Napoleon, 307, 326, 
327, 329. 

Linois, French admiral, repels British 
fleet at battle of Algesiras, ii. 63-66 ; 
deceived by a body of East India 
ships, 214, 215. 

Louis XVI., King of France, inter- 
feres between Austria and Hol- 
land, i. 17, 18; brought from 
Versailles to Paris by the mob, 25 ; 

flight from Paris and capture of, 
1791, 28, scenes of June 20 and 
August 10, 1792, 30; suspended, 
30; and deposed, 31; tried and 
executed, 32 ; interest in the navy, 
50, 67. 
Louisiana, cession by Spain to France, 
ii. 67, 77 ; apprehensions of Great 
Britain, 77 ; anger of the United 
States people, 103 ; sold to the 
United States by Bonaparte, 104. 

Malta, Island of, belongs to Knights 
of St. John in 1793, i. 87 ; its de- 
pendence upon the fleet, 87 ; import- 
ance of, 87, 247 ; Bonaparte's designs 
upon, 255 ; seized by Bonaparte, 
257 ; Nelson's opinion of, 258 ; in- 
terest of the Czar, Paul I., in, 281, 
282, ii. 32-34, 53; blockaded by 
British and Portuguese squadron, 
and summoned to surrender by Sir 
James Saumarez, i. 285 ; isolation 
of, 285, 329 ; surrendered to British, 
330; stipulations of the prelimina- 
ries of peace in 1801, 72; provisions 
of the Treaty of Amiens, 81 ; dis- 
putes between England and France 
concerning, 91-98 ; Orders in Coun- 
cil of 1807, 286, 287 ; commercial 
importance, 1807-1812, 305. 

Matin, British admiral, joins Medi- 
terranean fleet, i. 194; detached to 
blockade Riehery in Cadiz, 202 ; 
ordered to rejoin by Jervis, 213 ; 
mistaken action of, 214, 215. 

Marmont, French marshal, opinion 
concerning Sir Sidney Smith, i. 
295 (note) ; commands corps in 
Holland for invasion of England, 
ii. 117, 120, 131, 165; quoted, i. 
259 (note), ii. 102, 335. 

Mar/in, French admiral, commands 
Toulon fleet in actions with British 
in 1795, i. 189-194. 

Masse'na, French marshal, com- 
mander-in-chief in Switzerland and 
Germany, 1799, ii. 3-5 ; wins battle 
of Zurich, 9 ; sent by Bonaparte to 
Italy, 15; operations in Italy, 1800, 
21 ; besieged in Genoa, 22; reverses 
in Portugal, 342, 348. 

Missiessy, French admiral, commands 
Rochefort division, ii. 132; escapes 
to the West Indies, 142, 144; re- 
turns thence to Rochefort, 152, 
166; Napoleon's further purposes 
for, 165. 



Montagu, British admiral, commands 
division under Lord Howe, May and 
June, 1794, i. 125, 126, 156-161. 

Moreau, French general, commands 
in Holland, 179.), i. 180; advance 
into Germany, 1796,216; command 
in Italy, 1799, 313, and retreat be- 
fore Suwarrow, ii. 5-8; appointed 
by Bonaparte to command in Ger- 
many, 15; successful campaign of 
1800, 21-24; wins battle of Hoheu- 
linden. 38 ; arrest upon charge of 
royalist conspiracy, 129. 

Naples, see Two Sicilies. 

Napoleon (see also Bonaparte), Em- 
peror of the French, ii. 130 ; plans 
for invading England modified by 
the death of Admiral Latouche Tre- 
ville, 130; second combination, 131 ; 
his dealings with Spain, 1803-1804, 
133-139 , failure to realize maritime 
conditions, 141 ; instructions to Ad- 
mirals Yilleneuve and Missiessy, 
142; final combination, 146-150; 
surmises as to British movements, 
153-158, 162, 166, 170; crowned 
King of Italy, 153; suspicions of 
Austria, 1805, 176-179; campaign 
of Austerlitz, 181 ; constant embar- 
rassment from the closure of the 
sea by the British navy, 184; anger 
against Admiral Villeneuve, 185; 
effect of Trafalgar upon policy, 197, 
223, 351 ; miscalculation in Ins at- 
tempt to crush Britisb commerce, 
201 ; vigor displayed in the attempt, 
202 ; measures at outbreak of war, 
1803, 265; Jena campaign, 270; 
Berlin Decree, 271-273; campaign 
against Russia, 1807, 274; Treaty 
of Tilsit, 274 ; projects against Por- 
tugal and Denmark, 276; enforce- 
ment (jf bis Continental System, 
277-279, 310, 396 ; additional" vigor 
in Berlin Decree, 281 ; character of 
the commercial warfare, 289 ; Milan 
Decree, 290 ; usurpation in Spain, 
291 ; meeting with the Czar at Er- 
furt, 293 ; joint letter to George 
III., 294 ; campaign in Spain, 1808, 
295 ; anger with Holland, 299 ; war 
with Austria, 1809, 314-316; exac- 
tions from Sweden, 316, 322 ; in- 
creased severity of warfare on 
commerce, 317-328; Holland an- 
nexed to the Empire, 321 ; annexa- 
tion of Oldenburg and the Hanse 

towns, 330; license system, 332; 
failing resources, 336 ; military 
treasure, 337 ; condition of credit, 
338-340 ; sufferings in France, 1811, 
340-343, 349 ; altercations with Rus- 
sia, 344-346 ; preparations for war, 
347 ; invades Russia, 351 ; essential 
error of his Continental System. 
351-355, 401, 402 ; concentration of 
purpose, 366 ; his services to the 
Revolution, 388, 400, 407 ; Conti- 
nental System inherited from Di- 
rectory, 396, 399 ; greatness of his 
power, 408 ; effect upon it of the 
British sea-power, 409 ; prolonga- 
tion of the Revolution due to his 
genius, 411. 

Navy, British, condition in 1793, i. 69- 
72 ; mutinies in, 72, 73, 232, 236- 
239 ; condition of material, 73-75 ; 
force compared with French navy, 
1793, 75 ; in 1801, ii. 73 ; tardy mo- 
bilization in 1793, i. 96, 97;* pre- 
ponderance of, 110, 287, 290, 291, 
324, 325, 328-338 ; inefficient action 
in the Atlantic, i. 162, 338, 339; 
defic.ent strength in 1803, ii. 122- 
124, 128, 148, 184; effect on the 
French Revolution, 395, 405, 406 ; 
increase under 1 itt, 404, and under 
his successors, 405. 

Dutch, numbers and importance, 
i. 78; inaction of, 171; defeat at 
Camperdown, 255. 378. 

French, deterioration after 1789, 
i. 35-41 ; disorders in, 41-50, 60-63 ; 
legislation by National Assemblies, 
51-59 ; effects of legislation, 59, 60, 
122; condition of officers and sea- 
men, 64-66, 189, 193, 201 ; condi- 
tion of material, 66-68, 163, 179, 
253, 338 (note) ; force compared 
with British, 1793, 75; in 1801, ii. 
73 ; inferiority in Mediterranean, 
1798-1801, i. 287, 290, 291, 324,325, 
328-334 ; ii. 25, 59-63 ; inferiority 
and operations in Atlantic, i. 335- 
338 ; peace essential to restore, ii. 
69, 81, 107, 184. 

Sj>an<sh, numbers of, i. 75 ; ineffi- 
ciencv of, 76-78, 81, 213, 222, 231 ; 
defeat at Cape St. Vincent, 221-228. 

Nelson, British Admiral, significance 
of his services in the Baltic and the 
Levant, i. 14, 22; services in Cor- 
sica, 187 • early actions in the Med- 
iterranean, 191-194 • services on 
Italian coast, 194-201, 208-212 ; 



professional characteristics, 196, 205, 
274, ii. 43-45, 52, 55, 139, 156, 162, 
163, 172; takes possession of Elba, 
i. 213 ; brilliant conduct at battle of 
Cape St. Vincent, 226-228 ; wounded 
in expedition against Teneriffe, and 
returns to England, 1797, 249; re- 
joins fleet off Cadiz, April, 1798, 
256 ; sent to watch armaments in 
Toulon, May, 1798, 256; pursuit of 
French fleet to Egypt, 258-261 ; 
battle of the Nile, 266-272 ; wound- 
ed, 272 ; merits of, in this battle, 
273-277 ; sends word to India, 283 ; 
goes to Naples, 284 ; blockades 
Malta, 285 ; distrust of Russia, 286, 
ii. 126 ; relations with Sir Sidney 
Smith, i. 297 ; incident of Bruix's 
incursion into the Mediterranean, 
308-321 ; return to England, 1800, 
330, ii. 37 ; views as to the French 
in Egypt, i. 331 ; reasons for refus- 
ing chief command in Baltic to, 
373, ii. 42; responsibility for action 
of Naples in 1798, ii. 1 ; detailed as 
second in command of the Baltic 
expedition, 37 ; his letter to Parker 
on the political and military situa- 
tion, 43-47 ; battle of Copenhagen, 
48-51 ; negotiates an armistice with 
Denmark, 51 ; merit of his conduct, 
52 ; left in chief command and takes 
fleet to Revel, 56 ; rebuked by the 
Czar, 57 ; appointed to Mediterra- 
nean command on renewal of war 
in 1803, 98 ; difficulties and perplex- 
ities, 123-129; opinion as to the 
dispositions of Spain in 1804, 139; 
goes to Egypt in search of French 
at Villeneuve's first sailing. 144; 
return off Toulon, 150; Villeneuve's 
second sailing, 151 ; pursues to West 
Indies, 152, 159-161 ; insight of, 
156, 162; return to Europe, 163, 
167, 169, 174; joins Brest fleet, 174, 
and returns to England, 175 ; joins 
fleet off Cadiz, 181, 186, battle of 
Trafalgar, 187; death, 192. 

Nielli/, French rear-admiral, men- 
tioned, i. 123, 126, 135. 155, 157. 

Notables, Assembly of, in France, 1787, 
i. 7, 19 ; meeting of, in 1788, 24. 

Orders in Council, British, June 8, 
1793, arresting vessels carrying pro- 
visions to France, ii. 233 ; Nov. 6, 
1793, seizing vessels laden with pro- 
duce from enemy's colonies, 234 ; 

partial revocation of this, Jan. 8, 
1794, 237; further relaxation, Jan- 
uary, 1798, 242; Fox's, of May 
16, 1806, establishing constructive 
blockade of hostile coasts, 269 ; Jan. 
7, 1807, forbidding neutral trade 
between hostile ports, 275 ; Nov. 7, 
1807, establishing constructive block- 
ade of all ports whence British flag 
was excluded, 283-290; April 26, 
1809, modifying those of Nov., 1807, 
313; final revocation of Orders of 
1807 and 1809, 351 ; analysis of 
their policy, 351-355. 

Paoh, Corsican leader, relations with 
Great Britain and France, i. 88 ; 
promotes union of island to Great 
Britain, 187 ; subsequent discontent, 

Parker, Sir Hyde, British admiral, 
command of Brest Blockade, i. 373 ; 
of expedition to Baltic, ii. 42-56 ; 
relieved of command, 56 ; Nelson's 
censure of, 56. 

Paul I., Czar of Russia, succeeds to 
the throne, i. 243 ; becomes hostile 
to French Republic, 281 ; interest 
in Malta, 281, ii. 32; alliance with 
Austria, i. 282 ; sends squadron to 
Mediterranean, 286 ; Russian army 
enters Italy, ii. 5 ; successes in Italy 
and reverses in Switzerland, 5-9 ; 
dissatisfaction with his allies, 11, 
26 ; Bonaparte's advances to, 29-33 ; 
hostile measures toward Great Brit- 
ain, 33; formation of Armed Neu- 
trality, 36 ; sends ambassador to 
Bonaparte, 38 ; importance to the 
northern league, 46 ; murdered, 51. 

Peace, Treaties of, Amiens. 1802, ii. 
81 (see also preliminaries. 71); 
Basle, 1795, i. 172; Campo Formio, 
1797, i. 250; Luneville, 1801. ii. 39, 
40 ; Presburg, 1805, ii. 182 ; Vienna, 
1809, ii. 316. 

Preliminaries of Leoben. 1797, i. 
234; of London, 1801, ii. 71. 

Pelleic, British admiral, commanding 
frigate off Brest, i. 351-354 ; action 
with the " Droits de 1* Horn me," 357 ; 
commands blockading force off Fer- 
rol, ii 118; opinion of the invasion 
flotilla, ii. 120, and of the condition 
of British navy, 123 ; able meas- 
ures for protection of trade in India. 



Perceval, British statesman, state- 
ment as to the object of the Orders 
in Council of November, 1807, ii. 
290, note. 

Pilnitz, declaration of, by Austria and 
Prussia, i. 28 ; effect upon the French 
people, 29. 

Pitt, British statesman, prime minister 
of Great Britain, i. 5 , power in the 
nation, 6 ; opposition to Russian ad- 
vance in the Kast, 20-24 ; attitude 
toward the French Revolution, 29, 
32-34, ii. 358-367, 382 ; treats with 
France, 1796 and 1797, i. 240, 245; 
resigns office, 1801, ii. 70; supports 
preliminaries of peace negotiated by 
Addington ministry, 72 , statement 
of object of British government in 
the war, 74, 75, 383-385 ; speech 
upon renewal of war in 1803, 99; 
attack upon St. Vincent's adminis- 
tration of the navy, 123 ; returns to 
office, and forms Third Coalition, 
177, 207; policy in seizing enemy's 
colonies defended, 217, 252, 386, 
393-395; modifies Rule of 1756 and 
originates commercial war policy of 
Great Britain, 242, 263 ; speech on 
the Armed Neutrality of 1800, 260; 
measures to restrain American trade 
with hostile colonies, 267, 354 ; 
death, 269 ; prosperity of Great 
Britain under his war administra- 
tion, 380-382, 394, also 17-19; com- 
parison between himself and his 
father, 387-391 ; general war policy 
of, 391-405; growth of navy under, 
404 ; success practically attained at 
his death, 405 ; his policy adopted 
by his successors, 405 ; accurate 
forecast of course of French Revo- 
lution, 41 1. 

Portugal, Navy of, in 1793, i. 78 ; tra- 
ditional alliance with Great Britain, 
84 ; co-operation with British navy, 
162, 285; French designs against, 
219 (and note) ; Bonaparte's de- 
signs upon, ii. 59, 67, 276, 296 ; 
treaty with France, 77, 81 ; Lisbon 
occupied by Junot'a corps, 277 ; 
flight of the Court to Brazil, 277 ; 
ports closed to British trade, 277 ; 
British land and expel Junot, 292 , 
Wellesley lands in 1809, 315; 
British operations in, 318, 348: 
Massena invades. 326; but forced 
to retreat, 342, 348. 

Privateering, French, number of pri- 

vateers captured, 1793-1 800, ii. 206; 
their activity, 207 ; privateering in 
the Channel and North Sea, 207- 
210; in the Atlantic, 210-211; in 
the West Indies, 211-214; in the 
East Indies, 214-218. 
Prussia, death of Frederic the Great, 
1786, i. 19; interference in Hoi 
land, 1787, 19; defensive alliance 
with Great Britain and Holland, 
1788, 21, 22, King joins in Decla- 
ration of Pilnitz, 28 ; takes arms 
against France, 30; jealousy of 
Austria, 80, 94 ; advance into 
France, 93 ; retreat from France, 
103; inaction in 1794, 103, 171; 
makes peace with France, 1795, 
172; guarantee of North German 
Neutrality, 172 ; refusal to join Sec- 
ond Coalition, 282 ; rigorous neu- 
trality after 1795, ii. 28; ambitions 
of, 31 ; hostile attitude toward Great 
Britain in 1800, 34; joins Armed 
Neutrality, 36 ; opportunism of, 40 ; 
closes the German rivers against 
British trade, 54 ; subsequent cool- 
ness toward Bonaparte, 68 ; rebuff 
from Bonaparte, 69, note ; favored 
by Bonaparte in apportioning Ger- 
man indemnities, 84; Bonaparte's 
pressure upon, 95 ; annoyance at 
Bonaparte's occupation of Han- 
over, 110; indignation at murder 
of the Due d'Engbien, 1 77 ; Hanover 
offered to, by Bonaparte, upon con- 
ditions, 179 ; commercial advantages 
through neutrality, 251 ; war with 
France, and defeat of Jena. 270 ; 
tyranny of Napoleon over, 301, 311, 
319, 322, 324, 325; share in "neu- 
tralizing" traffic, 309. 

Piirlieni, French admiral, commerce- 
destroying expedition, i. 202, 214; 
shares in expedition against Ire- 
land, 214, 348-353 

Rule of 1756, conceded bv Russia and 
the Baltic States, ii. 57, 58, 261, 262 ,• 
statement of, 234-236; seizure of 
American vessels under, 236-239 ; 
modifications of, bv British govern- 
ment, 237, 242, 262, 203, 209 ■ eva- 
sion of, bv American vessels, 253, 
266-269; extension of, bv Orders 
in Council of January, 1807, 275; 
tendency and importance of, 353- 
355 , arguments for and against, 
350, also 235, 236. 



Russia, relations with Austria, 1780- 
1790, i. 9, 11, 16, 17, 19, 24, 25; 
advance of, since 1713, 10; rela- 
tions to Great Britain in 1770, 11, 
12, and in 1785, 13, 22, 23 ; relations 
with France in 1785, 17 ; war with 
Turkey, 1787, 19; attempt to send 
fleet from Baltic to Mediterranean, 
20; war with Sweden, 1788, 21; 
successes on Black Sea, 24-27 ; 
peace with Turkey and Sweden, 27 ; 
unfrieudly attitude toward French 
Revolution, 34, 82, ii. 233 ; partition 
of Poland, i. 82 ; defensive alliance 
with Great Britain, 1795, 172; death 
of Catharine and accession of Faul 
I., 243 ; difficulties with France, 
1798, 281 ; joins Second Coalition, 
282 ; conjointly with Turkey sends 
fleet against the Ionian Islands, 
286 ; Russian army enters Italy, ii. 
5 ; hattles of the Trebia, 6, and of 
Novi, 8, won from the French, 1799 ; 
Russian army marches into Switzer- 
land, 9. and retires into Bavaria, 
11 ; reduction of the Ionian Islands, 
10; abandons the Coalition, 11, 19 ; 
dissatisfaction of the Czar, 26 ; in- 
terest in peace with England, 28, 
29, 289, 293, 306, 329 ; measures of 
Paul I. against Great Britain, 32- 
34 ; Armed Neutrality renewed, 36, 
260 ; admiration of Faul for Bona- 
parte, 32, 38 ; assassination of Faul 
and accession of Alexander, 51, 56 ; 
convention with Great Britain, 1801, 
57, 261 ,• attitude concerning Malta, 
92 ; breach with France caused by 
murder of Due d'Knghien, 177 ; 
mission to Great Britain and forma- 
tion of Third Coalition, 177; effect 
of Russia upon the struggle between 
Great Britain and Napoleon, 200, 
401, 409; war with France, 1807, 
273 ; conventions of Tilsit between 
Russia and France, 274, 276, 278, 
310, 329. 405 ; war declared against 
Great Britain. 278, 305 ; conventions 
of Erfurt with Napoleon, 293 ; war 
with Sweden, 1808, 293; joint let- 
ter of Czar and Napoleon to George 
III., 294 ; enforcement of the Conti- 
nental System. 301, 303, 306, 329, 
336, 406 • peare with Sweden, 1809, 
316; causes leading to war with 
France in 1812, 325, 330, 336. 344- 
346. 397, 401 ; alliance with Great 
Britain and Sweden, 347, 350; peace 

with Turkey, 350 ; Napoleon's inva- 
sion, 351. 

Sardinia, Island of, gives name to 
Italian Kingdom, i. 87 ; strategic 
importance of, 87, ii. 128. 

Sardinia, Kingdom of, at war with 
France in 1793, i. 34; extent of, 
84, 87 ; operations of, in 1793, and 
1794, 93, 171; in 1795, 195-198; 
defeats by Bonaparte, 1796, 209; 
concludes separate peace with 
France, 209; cedes islands of Sar- 
dinia and San Fietro to France, 
246, 248 ; Piedmont annexed to 
France and the Court retires to 
island of Sardinia, ii. 2; interest 
of the Czars in, 69, note; British 
intercession for, 97. 

Saitmarez, British admiral, commands 
a ship at Battle of Cape St. Vincent, 
i. 233 ; commands " Orion " at the 
Battle of the Nile, 265 ; criticism of 
Nelson's plan, 273 ; sails for Gibral- 
tar with the prizes, 284 ; summons 
French garrison at Malta, 285 ; 
commands inshore squadron off 
Brest, 375 ; commands fleet at Bat- 
tle of Algesiras, ii. 63-66; com- 
mendations of by St. Vincent and 
Nelson, 65, 66 ; commands Baltic 
fleet, 1808-1812,294,297,313; emi- 
nent services of, 346, 347 (note). 

Scheldt, River, question of the, i. 9, 
16, 18; importance of, 10, 20; 
opened to commerce by the French, 

Sche'rer, French general, wins battle 
of Loano, i. 198 ; relieved by Bona- 
parte, 203 ; inefficiency in 1799, in 
Italy, ii. 3-5. 

Sebastiani, French colonel, mission 
to the Levant and report, ii. 93 ; 
Bonaparte's object in publishing, 94, 
106 ; exasperation in Great Britain, 
94 ; effect upon British policy, 96,97. 

Smith, Sir Sidney, British naval cap- 
tain', reputation and character of, i. 
294, 295 ; mission to the Mediter- 
ranean, 1799, 296 ; annoyance of St. 
Vincent and Nelson, 297 ; supports 
the besieged garrison at Acre, 
298-302 ; conduct on this occasion 
considered, 302-304; accompanies 
Turkish Expedition against Egypt, 
321 ; countenances Convention of 
El Arish in disregard of his orders, 



Spain, results of war of 1778 to, i. 3, 4 ; 
defensive alliance with Russia and 
Austria, 1789, 2."); Nootka Sound 
trouble with Great Britain, 44, 45 ; 
condition of navy, 1793, 75-78, 82, 
229, 231 : France declares war 
against, 79 : strategic position and 
inefficient administration of, 80 : 
fleet enters Toulon with Hood, 92; 
war in Pyrenees, 1793, 104; evacua- 
tion of Toulon, 105 : loss of Trinidad, 
120; disasters on French frontier, 
1794, 171 ; peace of Basle with 
France, 1795, 172; changed rela- 
tions with Great Britain, 213; de- 
fensive and offensive alliance with 
France, 214 ; naval co-operation with 
France, 214-210,348; naval defeat 
off Cape St. Vincent, 219-229; 
share in Admiral Bruix's Expedi- 
tion, 307-316; internal weakness 
of, in 1799, 311 ; Bonaparte's use 
of, to further his continental policy, 
ii. 59, 62, 07 ; naval defeat near 
Cadiz, 1801, 64; cession of Lou- 
isiana to France, 77 ; Peace of 
Amiens witli Great Britain, 81 ; re- 
newal of war with Great Britain, 
1804, 133 ; subserviency to Bona- 
parte's control, 134-136; subsidies 
paid to France, 133, 138 ; renewed 
alliance with France, 140 ; share in 
Trafalgar campaign, 151, 154, 162- 
180; naval defeat off Cape Finis- 
terre, 169-171, naval defeat at 
Trafalgar, 187-195; revolt against 
IS'apoleon, 195, 292, 401 ; weakness 
of colonial administration, 79, 213 ; 
Napoleon's usurpation, 291 ; Great 
Britain assumes Spanish cause, 294 ; 
Napoleon's campaign in, 1808, 295, 
298, 315; Wellesley in, 315, 348, 
349; drain of Spanish war upon 
Napoleon, 317, 318, 319, 342, 343, 
348, 397, 401, 402. 

St. Andre, Jean Bon, French repre- 
sentative and commissioner, opin- 
ions on naval efficiency, i. 37, 58, 

States General, meeting of the, in 
France, May, 1789, i. 24, 25. 

Strategy, naval, strategic position of 
Spain, i. 80-82; of Portugal, 84; 
particular importance of Mediter- 
ranean islands, 85, 247, 248; im- 
portance of Malta, 87, 258, 319, ii. 
92; Maddalena Bay in Sardinia, 
88, ii. 128, 143; Corsica, i. 88, 186; 

general dispositions of British fleet, 

1793, 96; its tardy mobilization, 97, 
100; necessity to Great Britain of 
forcing French fleets to sea, 97-100 , 
Lord Howe's strategic dispositions, 
101-103, 125, 162-166, 338, 339; 
strategic value of Toulon, 105; 
analogy between British operations 
in Peninsula and Napoleon's in- 
tended invasion of England, 106- 
108 ; strategic conditions in West 
Indies, 109-115; mistakes of the 
British in West Indies, 116-120; 
criticism of naval campaign of May, 

1794, 155-160 ; faulty dispositions of 
the Channel' fleet, '1793-1800, 165, 
361-366; policy of an inferior navy 
deduced from Napoleon's practice, 
179, 180, 304, 305; strategic influ- 
ence of the British Mediterranean 
fleet, 185, 195-197, 207, 216-218, 
233, 254, 255, 277, 280, 282, 287, 
290-292, 324, 325, 328-334, ii. 25, 
59-68, 123-125, 129,159; Hotham's 
campaign of 1795 criticised, 198- 
201 ; French commerce-destroving 
policy, 201-203, 335-337, ii. 203- 
210, 221-227 ; effects of the Battle 
of the Nile, 277, 282-284, 287, 291, 
325; strategic importance of Acre, 
293, 298, 299, 324 ; strategic signifi- 
cance of Bruix's incursion into the 
Mediterranean, 304, 318; St. Vin- 
cent's strategic action at this time, 
309-312,314,318-321; contrast be- 
tween his point of view and that of 
Lord Keith, 313, 320, 321 ; coinci- 
dence of his views with Nelson's, 
319,321; Nelson's action, 310; dis- 
cussion of Bruix's conduct, 316- 
318; of the British admirals', 318- 
321 ; policy of evasion entailed by 
French naval weakness, 335 ; strate- 
gic problem before Great Britain in 
the Revolutionary wars, 338 ; its 
true solution, 339-342; strategic 
interest of Ushant, 344; the winds 
as strategic factors, 344 ; faulty 
dispositions of the Channel fleet, 
1793-1800, 345 ; analysis of the ef- 
fects upon Irish expedition, 1796, 
360-366; changes made by St. Vin- 
cent in 1800, 368-371, 374, 375; 
their efficacy, 375, 376, ii. 60-66, 106, 
118-121,126, 153, 166, 183; Napo- 
leon's estimate of Antwerp, 1. 377 ; 
Nelson in the Baltic, ii. 43-47, 51- 
53 ; Napoleon's object in concen- 



trating at Cadiz, 63 ; strategic sig- 
nificance of battle of Algesiras, 64- 
66 ; defensive and offensive gain to 
Great Britain in forcing war, 1803, 
106-108 ; Napoleon's combinations 
for invasion of England, 111-117, 
124, 131-133, 140-142, 145-150; 
British measures for thwarting 
them, 118-122, 126, 148; Nelson's 
strategy, 127, 142-144, 150-152, 156, 
159-1U3, 167, 172, 174, 186, 187; 
various surmises and measures of 
Napoleon during the Trafalgar cam- 
paign, 153-159" 162, 165, 170, 173, 
178, 181 ; generally accurate strat- 
egy of the British authorities, 157— 
159, 166, 176, 183; masterly combi- 
nation of Lord Barham, 168-170, 
184; mistake of Admiral Calder, 
171, 174; mistake of Cornwallis, 
176 ; analysis of the strategic 
chances in the Trafalgar campaign, 
182-185; character of Villeneuve's 
error, 196; strategic effect of the 
campaign upon the remainder of 
the war, 197 ; general naval strategy 
of the British, 1793-1812,392-411. 
St. Vincent, Earl, British admiral 
(Jervis), expedition to West Indies, 
i. 115; assumes command of Med- 
iterranean fleet, 203 ; perfection of 
fleet under, 206 ; professional char- 
acter, 203-206 ; blockade of Toulon, 
212; seizes Elba with a squadron, 
213 ; ordered to evacuate Corsica, 
215 ; retires to Gibraltar, 216 ; firm- 
ness of, 217 ; ordered to rendezvous 
at Lisbon, 219; disasters to fleet, 
219; meeting with Spanish fleet, 
221 ; battle of Cape St. Vincent, 
222-228; merit of, 228; created 
Earl St. Vincent, 229 ; establishes 
blockade of Cadiz, 232 ; incident of 
mutiny, 236 (note) ; sends Nelson 
to Teneriffe, 249 ; sends Nelson into 
the Mediterranean, May, 1798,256- 
258 ; residence at Gibraltar, 285 ; 
seizes Minorca, 287 ; relations with 
Sir Sidney Smith, 294-297 ; con- 
duct during Bruix's incursion into 
the Mediterranean, 306-321 ; health 
fails, 312 ; returns to England, 321 ; 
commands Channel fleet, 368 ; meth- 
ods of watching Brest, 368-375 ; 
becomes First Lord of the Admi- 
ralty, 375, ii. 42 ; encomium upon 
Nelson, 53 ; upon Saumarez, 65 ; 
his naval dispositions in second war, 

119-122,126; his inopportune econ- 
omy, 122, 124, 127, 128, 166; leaves 
office, 129; merit of his strategic 
dispositions, i. 375, 376, ii. 126, 183. 

Suwarrow, Russian marshal, storming 
of Ismail, i. 26; commands corps 
sent to support Austrians in Italy, 
282, 284, ii. 5 ; commander-in-chief 
of allied forces, 5 ; victorious cam- 
paign in Italy, 5-8 ; disastrous march 
into Switzerland, 9 ; declines further 
co-operation with Austrians, 10. 

Sweden, loss of Baltic provinces to 
Russia, i. 10; hostility to Russia, 
17; troops enter Russia, 1788, 21; 
supported by Great Britain and 
Prussia, 21, 25 ; interest of western 
powers in, 22 ; subsidized by Turkey, 
24; peace with Russia, 1790, 27; 
even balance of naval strength in 
Baltic, 27 ; unfriendly to French 
Revolution in 1793, 34; seeks the 
commercial advantages of neutral- 
ity, 83, ii. 233 ; loss of West India 
islands, 1801, i. 121 ; joins Armed 
Neutrality of 1800, ii. 36 ; embargo 
of merchant ships by Great Britain, 
53 ; convention with Great Britain, 
58, 266 ; quarrel with France and 
joins Third Coalition, 177; Napo- 
leon's exactions from, 231, 317, 322, 
345 ; summoned by France and Rus- 
sia to close ports against Great Brit- 
ain, 274; hostilities with Russia, 
1808, 293; British relations with 
1808-1812,294,296, 297, 305, 317; 
cedes Finland and makes peace with 
Russia, 316 ; formal war with Great 
Britain, 346. 

Switzerland, disturbances in, 1797, i. 
278 ; France intervenes by force 
and changes constitution, 279 ; 
French operations in, 1799, ii. 3-9; 
strategic importance in Bonaparte's 
campaign of 1800, 20, 22; inde- 
pendence guaranteed at Luneville, 
40 ; Bonaparte's intervention in, 
1802, 86-88; action of British min- 
istry thereupon, 88-90; effect upon 
course of events, 90-93 ; enforce- 
ment by Napoleon of his commer- 
cial war measures, 324-326. 

Tactics, Naval, French and British on 
May 28, I794,i.}127-129 ; on May 29, 
129-134 ; June 1, 136-147 ; merits of 
Howe's, 135, 150, 160; analysis of 
the results of the battle of June 1, 



with deductions, 149-155 ; Sir John 
Jervis at battle of Cape St. Vincent, 
-224, 2i;5 ; Nelson's tactical move on 
that occasion, 226-228 ; dispositions 
of the French admiral in Aboukir 
Bav, 203, 264 ; contrasted with 
Hood's at St. Kitts in 1782, 265; 
Nelson's tactics at the Nile, concen- 
tration on enemy's van, 206 ; arrival 
of the British reserve, and concen- 
tration on centre, 270 ; analysis of 
Nelson's claim to credit, 273-277 ; 
tactical dispositions before Brest of 
Bridport, 351, 300, and of St. Vin- 
cent, 371 ; tactical anecdotes of 
Nelson, ii. 39, 45 ; tactical surround- 
ings at Copenhagen, 1801, 44 ; Nel- 
son's dispositions in consequence, 
47, 48 ; his tactics at Trafalgar, 188 ; 
analvsis of them, 189 ; the result, 
1 92-1 94. 

Trafalgar, battle of, decisive effect 
upou the course of the war, ii. 196- 

Treat)/, Holland and France, 1795, of- 
fensive and defensive alliance, i. 172, 
ii. 133 ; Jay's, of commerce and 
navigation, between Great Britain 
and United States, 1794, ii. 237- 
239 ; San lldefouso, offensive and de- 
fensive between France and Spain, 
1796, i. 213, ii. 133, and renewed 
in 1805, ii. 140; Tilsit, between 
France and Russia, 1807, ii. 274 ; 
conventions, of El Arish between 
Turkey and French commander-in- 
chief in Egypt, 1799, i. 332-334 ; of 
Great Britain and Russia concern- 
ing neutral navigation, 1801, ii. 57, 

See also "Peace" and "Armed 

Troubridge, British captain, Nelson's 
praise of, i. 75; leads the fleet at 
the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, 224, 
227 ; misfortune at the Battle of the 
Nile, 209 ; bombardment of Alexan- 
dria, 297 ; services at Naples, 308. 

Turkey, Empire of, encroachments of 
Russia upon, i. 10; natural ally of 
France, 12, 22 ; treaty of Kainardji, 
1774, 13 ; declares war against Rus- 
sia, 1787, 19; war with Austria, 19; 
relations to Great Britain in 1790, 
23 ; military reverses, 24, 26 ; peace 
with Austria and Russia, 25, 27 ; 
disorganized condition in 1793, 85 ; 
territorial limits, 85; Bonaparte's 

estimate of strength of, 248 ; effect 
of battle of the Nile upon, 277 ; 
war declared against France, 278 ; 
Russo-Turkish fleet enters Mediter- 
ranean, 286 ; troops sent to Acre, 
301 ; unfortunate landing in Abou- 
kir Ray, 322 ; convention for the 
evacuation of Egypt, 332; capture 
of the Ionian Islands, ii. 10; peace 
with France, 77 ; misrule in Egypt, 
150; hostilities with Great Britain, 

, 278 % 

Tiro Sicilies, The, navy of, in 1793, i. 
78 ; attitude toward French Revo- 
lution, 84 ; effect of Bonaparte's 
victories upon, 1796, 211 ; abandons 
the Coalition, 211 ; strategic im- 
portance of, 218 ; dissatisfaction 
at French advance in Italy, 279 ; 
defensive alliance with Austria, 282 ; 
Nelson's arrival in Naples, 285 ; pre- 
mature, hostilities with France, ii. 
1 ; the Court flies to Palermo, 2 ; 
Naples occupied by French troops, 
2 ; French forced to evacuate the 
Kingdom, 6 ; French division occu- 
pies the heel of Italy after Marengo, 
59 ; evacuates after Peace of Amiens 
71 ; re-occupation after renewal of 
war in 1803, 109; part played in 
Napoleon's combinations, 110, 124, 
185 ; Joseph Bonaparte, King of, 

United States, difficulties with France, 
1793-1797, i. 241, ii 242-248; ces- 
sion of Louisiana by Spain to 
France, ii. 78 ; jealousy of political 
interference on the American con- 
tinent by European nations, 103 ; 
uneasiness at cession of Louisiana, 
104 ; buys Louisiana of France, 105 ; 
sufferings from privateers in the 
West Indies, 1805, 213; importance 
of American carrying trade, 231 ; 
growth of merchant shipping, 232 ; 
injuries under Rule of 1756, 233- 
237 ; Treaty of Commerce and Navi- 
gation with Great Britain, 1794, 
237-239 ; difficulties with France 
arising thence, 239 ; relations with 
Great Britain, 1794-1804, 241 ; 
French aggressions upon American 
shipping, 242-246 ; demands of 
Spain and Holland, 247 ; course of 
trade with Europe, 1793-1804, 253, 
254, 354 ; hostilities with France, 
1798-1800, 258; trade with belli- 



gerent colonies, 266-268, 353 ; 
British seizures of American ships, 
1804, 269 ; commercial treaty of 
1806 with Great Britain rejected by 
Senate, 275 ; effect upon American 
trade of British Order of January, 
1807, 276; Embargo Act of De- 
cember, 1807, 282, succeeded by 
Non-Intercourse Act, 1809, 283; 
importance of American market to 
Great Britain, 291 ; losses by Na- 
poleon's decrees of Bayonne and 
Rambouillet, 292; American ships 
in Dutch ports confiscated by Napo- 
leon, 320, 321 ; expiration of Non- 
Intercourse Act, and proviso 
succeeding it, 331 ; American trade 
in Baltic, 1809-1812, 345, and note ; 
declaration of war against Great 
Britain, 351. 

Van Stabel, French rear-admiral, es- 
cape of, from Lord Howe, i. 66 ; 
protects large convoy from America, 
123; brings it safely to Brest,. 161. 

" Vengeur," French ship-of-the-line, 
desperate action with the British 
ship "Brunswick," i. 140-143; 
sinks, 144. 

Venice, Republic of, deprived of pos- 
sessions on Italian mainland, also 
Istria and Dalrnatia, i. 235 ; insur- 
rection against French, 246 ; con- 
duct of Bonaparte toward, 247-249 ; 
annihilation of, 250. 

Villaret-Joyeuse, French admiral, let- 
ters of, i. 56 ; position before Revo- 
lution, 57 ; sails in command of 
Brest fleet, 124; meeting with 
British fleet, 126; manoeuvres of, 
May 28 and 29, 1794, 126-134; 
conduct in battle of June 1, 136- 
139, 144-147 ; strategy of, 159, 160; 
anecdote, 160 (note) ; winter cruise 
of, January, 1795, 163, 164; action 

with Lord Bridport, 177-178; ap- 
pointed to command fleet in Irish 
Expedition, 1796, 349; views as to 
the expedition, 349 ; detached from 
it at Hoche's request, 350. 
Villeneuve, French admiral, sent with 
a division from Toulon to Brest, i. 
220 ; commands the rear division at 
battle of the Nile, 271 ; conduct of, 
272 ; appointed to command the 
Toulon squadron in 1804, ii. 130; 
Napoleon's instructions to, 142, 149, 
164 ; first sortie from Toulon, 143 ; 
return to port, 144 ; second sailing 
and arrival in West Indies, 151 ; 
inaction there, 161, and return to 
Europe, 162 ; meeting with Calder's 
fleet, 169, 171 ; anchors in Vigo Bay 
and thence goes to Ferrol, 173 ; 
sails from Ferrol for Brest, 179, but 
bears up for Cadiz, 180 ; Napoleon's 
charges against, 185 ; battle of Tra- 
falgar, 187-195 ; criticism of, 196. 

Wellesley, British general, landing 
in Portugal, 1808, and victory of 
Vimiero, ii. 292 ; landing in Lis- 
bon, 1809, beginning of Peninsular 
command, aud operations in Portu- 
gal, 315 ; lines of Torres Vedras, 
318; capture of Ciudad Rodrigo 
and Badajoz, 348, 349. 

West Indies, commercial importance 
of, in the French Revolution, i. 109, 
110; character of military control 
required, 110-112, ii. 252 ; military 
importance of Lesser Antilles, i. 1 14, 
117, 119 ; military and naval opera- 
tions in, 115-121 ; French Expedi- 
tion to, 1801, ii. 78, 94, 103; Nelson's 
estimate of, 160; American trade 
with, 232, 236-238, 245, 253, 266- 
269 ; importance to British com- 
mercial system, 252, and note, 393. 




Mahan, Alfred Thayer 

The influence of sea power 
upon the French revolution and